The mastermind behind Apple, Steve Jobs enjoyed an immeasurable amount of fame and wealth and even after his demise, he continues being mentioned and spoken about for his business innovations.
Now, seven years after his death, daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs has come up with an excruciatingly difficult yet considerate take on her strained relationship with her father. Her thoughts may evoke a sense of agony and angst for the man, but she puts them across in the most subtle yet effective manner.
Her memoir, Small Fry, chronicles around various facets and incidences from her childhood and adulthood. Here are some highlights from the memoir that give us an insight into the other side of Steve Jobs.
Born on May 17, 1978, Lisa recounts the first time her father came to meet her after her birth and the role he played in naming her. As she grew older, she believed that the early Apple computer which was named as Lisa, wasn’t a coincidence but proof that her cold dad indeed loved her from within. One fine day, she asked, “Hey, you know the computer, the Lisa? Was it named after me?” But his dismissive response saying a No, hit her hard. It was only when she turned 27 that he confessed about it.
Lisa states that her father was never the threatening sorts, but just a bit too awkward. Her mother Chrisann Brennan had shared an upsetting conversation between Jobs and his daughter in her own memoir, The Bite In The Apple. Narrating the incident, she wrote that one evening, when Jobs was all alone to babysit nine-year-old Lisa, she returned only to discover her husband “teasing her non-stop about her sexual aspirations.” Concerned as a mother, she explained that he was “ridiculing her with sexual innuendos” and “joking about bedroom antics between Lisa and this or that guy.”
But, she adds that “I will be clear, Steve was not a sexual predator of children. There was something else going on. He was so inappropriate because he didn’t know how to do better.”
Lisa recounts an encounter where he embraced her step-mom Ms Powell Jobs one day right in front of her, “pulling her in to a kiss, moving his hand closer to her breasts and up her thigh moaning theatrically.” And as she tried to leave the scene, her father coaxed her, “Hey Lis. Stay here. We’re having a family moment. It’s important that you try to be part of this family.”
Jobs has also been pretty tight with his money inspite of a $AU 13.6 billion net worth at the time of his death. Such were his ways that he refused to install a heater in her bedroom and that he was “not generous with money, or food, or words.” It was when the court finally asked him to cough up, he started paying $500 a month for child support which was still way too less for a man earning in millions and billions.
Lisa’s mother Chrisann had to struggle for survival as she did chores of a waitress and a cleaner. An arrogant Jobs asked his daughter, “You know who I am? I’m your father. I’m one of the most important people you will ever know.” Shortly after this incident, he went about apologizing for everything and increased her financial aid to $4000 a month.
Recalling another conversation she had with her father when she was barely seven, Lisa reveals that her father would drive over in a convertible Porsche and she asked him once if she would ever inherit his car some day and an infuriated Jobs got back to her saying, “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”
As Lisa started growing old, she noticed her father loosening up to make up for his arrogant ways and even bought her a $400,000 house and two cars. However, his second wife and the three children earned the bulk of his money post his death. Laurene Powell Jobs and her children hold a net worth of $AU 29.4 billion whereas Lisa earned an undisclosed chunk of his wealth in the settlement.
As he lay on his death bed, suffering from pancreatic cancer, Jobs couldn’t resist telling his daughter, “You smell like a toilet.” She suggests that it was merely to show her “honesty” and not a hateful remark.
“For a long time, I hoped that if I played the beloved daughter, he would be the indulgent father,” Lisa writes. “If I had admitted to myself what I saw, I would have known that he would not do this.”