Steve Jobs, the multi-billionaire founder of Apple and creator of the iPhone, may have revolutionized the world of communication with his incredible smartphone — but he apparently lacked personal communication skills in his real life.
Such was the picture painted in a new book by Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, which portrayed the Apple founder as a bitter and cold man who mistreated her and others for many years only to apologize on his deathbed.
Small Fry, which was released on Tuesday, details the harsh and, at times distant, relationship Brennan-Jobs shared with her father.
According to an exclusive report from the U.K. Daily Mail, Brennan-Jobs wrote about how she had visited her father when he was on the verge of succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 2011. On his deathbed, Jobs apologized for his cruel behavior toward her over the course of her life, and admitted, “I didn’t spend enough time with you when you were little.”
Jobs was alleged to have repeatedly said, “I owe you one” with regard to the many moments that could have been shared but were instead lost over the years. “I wish I could go back, I wish I could change it but it’s too late,” he told her.
Ironically, to explain why he had largely ignored her birthdays or outreach toward him for ten years prior to his death — which it turns out was the result of him feeling slighted for not being included in her first day at Harvard University — Jobs offered as an excuse: “I’m not too good at communication.”
Disputed paternity, cruel behavior
Lisa Brennan-Jobs was born in 1978 to Jobs and Chrisann Brennan, then Jobs’ girlfriend of five years. But Jobs reportedly disputed that the child was his and left the new mother to raise the child on her own.
Even after his paternity was proven by a DNA test in 1980 and a court ordered him to pay child support, he still claimed for a time that he wasn’t the father, though in later years he seemed to have gradually accepted Brennan-Jobs into the family.
Brennan-Jobs shared plenty of anecdotes in her book that reveal Jobs’ cruelty toward her, toward her young friends, toward her mother and even toward random waitresses in restaurants who couldn’t get his demanding orders and specific requests exactly correct.
But Jobs’ callous and cruel attitude seemed to fade as he entered the final days of his life. He seemed pleased to have her visit and allegedly told her, “I didn’t spend enough time with you when you were little. I wish we’d had more time … now it’s too late.”
It is worth noting that some of Brennan-Jobs’ claims are disputed by Jobs’ sister Mona, Laurene Powell-Jobs, his wife of 20 years, and her three children, who expressed “sadness” at Brennan-Jobs’ account. “The portrayal of Steve is not the husband and father we knew,” they said in a statement. They did, however, express gratitude that Jobs had reconnected with his oldest daughter before his death.
Steve Jobs will forever be remembered by most as a great technological innovator who revolutionized the world of computers and communication, but if the words of his daughter are to be believed, his communication skills in his personal life with his family may have been decidedly lacking.