My Mother and Steve Jobs

I find myself impressed that my sixty-seven year old mother knows who Steve Jobs is. I am further impressed that she seems to feel some compassion for him and even awareness of the impact he has made on technology and Apple in particular.

As I relocate my laptop computer from her dining room table to its carrying case, mother calls me to the television.

“Look, seeeeeeeeee, he is sick.  Look at those photos. Awww. He has pancreatic cancer” mom says.

Not sure whom she is speaking of, I decide to leave the laptop on the cherry wood table and join her in the living room.  The television is broadcasting a news story of Steve Jobs. Photos of him, allegedly unedited photos, are shown on-screen. He is attempting to get into a wheel chair in one photo. In another, he is being steadied by another man, seemingly unable to walk on his own.  In both photos he looks gaunt, pale, obviously ill.

Mother continues on with her talk of Steve. I am barely listening. I am in my own state of wonder at the photos and reminiscing about Steve, Apple, and technology within the halls of my own mind. I note that he does look poorly. I feel sad for an instant having admired him in the past, realizing the contributions he has made to our world today.

The news story changes and now we see a picture of Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian immigrant reportedly the biological father of Steve Jobs.  My mind stops reminiscing and my attention is captured. 

Did I know Steve Jobs was an adoptee?  I quickly scan my memory banks and blog readings to retrieve this info. Surely I must have. I believe a blog, perhaps FirstMother forum, once captured the names of famous adoptees.

My mother is suddenly quiet behind me. No more talk of pancreatic cancer, no more “awwws” or expressions of sadness. The room is quiet.

I am standing in front of my  mother, closest to the television.  The news reporter states that Jandali regrets the surrender of his son to adoption.  Janadali conceived Jobs with his now ex-wife Joanne Simpson.  Simpson father was against the idea of his daughter marrying a Syrian and as a result, their child was put up for adoption.  (Simpsons father died a few months after their child’s birth allowing the couple to be together).

The newsreel displays a photo of Jandali, an attractive older man noted to be a workaholic (much like his son he did not raise). My eyes dart furiously back and forth across the screen as I look for a resemblance to Jobs. My mother is mumbling something behind me. It is static to me. I am in my own adoption topic induced world.

Report continues that Jandali has emailed his son a few times but has never met him face-to-face (at least not since his birth).  It is unclear from the report if the lack of a meeting is due to father or son.  Now that Jobs is on his deathbed, Jandali is quoted as saying he wants to have the opportunity to meet his son. I find myself wondering if Joanne Simpson, the mother of Jobs and ex-wife of Jandali, ever reunited with her son.

I am frozen in place. My feet wont move from the beige area rug my mother has recently placed in her living room. The sound of her voice is once again heard in my ears.

Another “awwww” (my mothers favorite phrase) is expressed and she continues.

“That is so sad.  Dad wants to meet his son. I hope he does.  That must be so hard to live with, don’t you think?” she says, clearly forgetting who is standing in the living room).

“Yes, Mom, I do think it must be hard. I live with it every day of my life” I respond as I reach once again for my laptop.

There is no response from my mother as I leave the room.

17 Thoughts.

  1. I’ve gotta tell ya Suz, right about now your mother’s pissing me off. There’s no excuse for that kind of insensitivity. None.

    • PB – I had typed a lengthy reply and my blog ate it. After more thought, I am going to use your comment as a prompt for another post. Is there no excuse? I am not convinced. I do believe I understand what you mean but I do think their is an excuse, or at least a reason. More to come.

      • Will check out your next post, but wanted to address your reply first. I see a reason/explanation and an excuse as two different things. Just because we can understand or empathize with where someone’s hurtful behavior comes from does not make it excuseable.

        • But don’t you get a pass if in your culture what you are doing is acceptable? What if you don’t know your behavior is even hurtful? What if you have been socialized to believe it is the appropriate response? I interpret the word excuse to imply intentionally hurtful behavior. I dont believe my mother is intentionally hurtful. I believe she has been conditioned to have different beliefs .

  2. My mother and I never once spoke about my surrendered daughter before she died. that must be hard for her to forget who is in the room. {{{{Suz}}}}

    • Barbara – I agree with you, sort of. Psychobabblers comment actually prompted another post for me. I started to respond to PB in a comment, then the blog ate it. Considering the length of the comment, it will likey be an entire post. I have mixed feelings on why my mother is the way she is. I appreciate PB compassion and frustration with her yet I also sort of understand why she is the way she is. More to come.

  3. I’m not so sure I could have left the room quite yet, likely would have said a bit more first.

    No disrespect intended, but I wonder if there’s a bit of denial brewing in your mother.

    • I am not sure it is denial. I think it is conditioning mixed with a teeny bit of avoidance (which is also conditioning). Will explain in my later post.

  4. curious to read your next post on this.

    I too was fascinated by the article and tried to scan my brain to see if I remembered that he was a famous adoptee.

    but the abcnews article disturbingly had to squeeze in “gave up” his child no less than 3 times. aside from the fact that it sounds like he didn’t have much of a choice or say in the matter, I’m not a fan of that language, especially by such a major news source.

  5. Super interesting. I understand it. I get the frustration of PB, but I also get your mother’s side, too. I’ve witnessed (been a part of) conversations and moments like you just had with your mom over and over again.

    Isn’t it interesting to be riveted by anything adoption? (I’m glad I’m not alone.) I feel like sometimes I have super sensitive hearing, ‘cuz if someone says anything related to the topic of adoption, my ears catch it. And listen. For however long the convo lasts.

    Can’t wait to read your further thoughts.

    I’m sorry that you have to live with it everyday of your life. That’s heavy, my Suz. xo

  6. I can so relate. My mother is exactly the same – we HAVE spoken about my pain and loss thanks to her insistance that I surrender her first grandchild to adoption; and she knows full well how it devastated me. Yet she still forgets. She has made numerous trite and insensitive comments to me over the years. I often wonder if my lesson in this lifetime that I am to be learning is forgiveness. If so, I work so very hard to at doing this but must admit that it more than I can to.

    Glad you’re going to share more on this topic.

  7. Pingback: Insensitive or Conditioned? « Writing My Wrongs

  8. I get the same kind of thing. I think – how lovely for them, who were often the driving force behind what happened, that they can just conveniently forget. My mother did something similar recently and I am having a hard time even talking to her. I am tired of the charade maintenance program.

    And just fyi I read in the Daily Beast that Steve’s father says he will leave it to Steve to call him (I think you did say Dad has emailed Steve) because he doesn’t want Steve to think he is after his money.

  9. Pingback: Writing My Wrongs » Reflections

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