“I owe you one.”
Those were the words uttered by the founder of the world’s most valuable company to his beloved daughter before he passed away.
Last night, I stayed up late. Like really late. It was one of those nights where the words of a book had me gripped in its pages and I simply couldn’t–and wouldn’t–go to sleep till I knew what happened at the end.
By the time I turned off the lights, it must have been past 4am.
We have all, at some point or another, envied the lives of the rich and famous. They are the elite of society and we are the commoners. They have so much money that they don’t even know what to do with it. All the while, the rest of us make do with what we have and figure it out as we go along.
There was one question that nagged me as I read the book. How can a multimillionaire leave his firstborn destitute? And from that first question emerged a second question. If he wasn’t a multimillionaire, would he have left her destitute?
The thing that hurt me the most as I read this book was not the story of a father who had abandoned his child. But rather, it is the fact that despite all of Steve Jobs’ flaws, Lisa Brennan-Jobs works hard and unfailingly to mend and even earn a relationship with her father, in the hopes that he would finally see how much he loved her.
Steve Jobs’ story (and stories) are the stuff of urban legend. As I read Small Fry, however, I was captivated not by the man behind the world’s most valuable company, but by the story that his firstborn had narrated of her coming-of-age. It is not a book about her father, even though he features prominently in the story as a larger-than-life figure whose love she craved.
Small Fry is the story of a firstborn who had been cast aside and rendered destitute. It is the story about a father who should have–and perhaps could have–taken responsibility, but didn’t.
I’ve read many memoirs over the years, coming-of-age stories, and ghostwritten books by famous people. But Brennan-Jobs story was different. It was raw, real and heartfelt.
I think, more than anything else, what came through in the story is that she understood him. Understood that he loved her. And above all, she understood that by the time he realised the grave mistake he made, he was in his grave–and it was simply too late.
That’s why he said, “I owe you one.”
As to what he actually felt he owed her, the answer is simple.