On October 16, 2011, in a memorial service at Memorial Church of Stanford University, Mona Simpson, Steve Jobs’s sister, delivered the following eulogy. And it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s far and away the best (and most human) thing I’ve read about Steve Jobs after his death.
Do read the whole thing. I will admit getting teary-eyed reading this eulogy.
On Steve’s capacity to work, even as his death was imminent:
None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.
Imagine if Steve lived longer and was able to make a wider impact with his vision. While in hospital:
Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.
And this is my favourite line in the eulogy. It’s so beautiful. It reminds us of how there are beginnings and ends, but somewhere, sometime, it will happen in the middle of others’ stories:
We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.
And what were the last words of Steve Jobs? Mona closes her eulogy with the following:
Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were:
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.