Like most people watching the news today, reflecting on Steve Jobs’ life and his perspective of how to live life (Ralphie, of course, only heard the part about dropping out of college and doing LSD) had me thinking about how Jobs’ life and the Apple computer played a part in our household. I started thinking about all of the computers we have had over the years, and how even in the technological realm, our life has come full circle (actually it’s more of a bell curve). At the top of the tech curve (some people might call it a bubble), I had a Mac AV computer that I was using in a mock TV studio in my fourth and fifth grade classroom in 1996. It involved lots of wires, video tape, floppy disks, and tons of accessories . . . Things are so much simpler these days.
My father would remind me of the days before the personal computer, when computers were the size of rooms. My dad wrote the computer programs for the Saturn booster rockets for the Apollo space missions.
The last time I saw my father, I was working on a Macintosh Classic in the “walk in” coat closet of our young family’s home in Walnut Creek (Kip was 2, Kelly 1, and I was pregnant with Ralphie). I was creating an animation using a HyperCard stack. Hypercard disappeared in the nineties, but it’s predecessor PowerPoint has stuck around. Because we are now living in our downsized, simplified empty nest where the nooks and crannies are not filled with my desktop computer and its accessories (Dreamweaver and PhotoShop), I have created this entire blog using PowerPoint, Paint, and the plainest WordPress theme I could find (Chateau) on a Netbook (I think the Mac Classic screen may have been bigger and I know my eyesight was better back then). Bottom of the bell curve.
My dad wanted to talk that day. His step-father, Henry (my grandfather), had just died from a heart attack a day earlier, and my dad was headed for the funeral in Arkansas that evening (in the car on the way to the airport we would have our discussion about flying). Henry was 80 when he had his heart attack (I can still hear my grandmother telling me how the doctor advised Henry to eat more fish, so she was “fryin’ him up some catfish every night”). While I plotted out the coordinates for my animation, my dad sat in the kitchen at the pine table by himself half-shouting his thoughts on life, death, and what we should do about Grandma (my dad was an only child), with the hopes that I was listening. I heard him say that 80 was a good age to live to, but that’s about all (I think I was actually trying to animate a circle).
On that day, in that closet, I thought I had a pretty good plan for my life: we would spend the next 25 years living in our picture perfect house, on our picture perfect lane, and have a picture perfect life. Unfortunately, three days later while I was swinging on our white-washed porch swing, drinking lemonade, and watching Kip and Kelly march around the front yard dressed in red, white, and blue and carrying a flag in the most darling 4th of July toddler parade (it was a picture perfect day), the phone rang. “Julie, your daddy’s been hit by a car,” my grandmother cried frantically. He was 57.
In the hospital, taking my father off of life support (a long, agonizing decision), I thought life is too short to spend 25 years anywhere. I got a big jolt of what Steve Jobs said at the Stanford commencement – if this was the last day of your life, what would you do with it? So instead of living in the community voted “most livable” for the past two decades, we’ve spent the last 19 years exploring the world, making some great friends, and living in a variety of places. To be sure, life has been a roller-coaster of bell curves (my perpetual dizziness is just adding to the fun although eliminating any chances I may have of pursuing a career in the airline industry). I think the only thing that has not fluctuated over the years is my AOL address.
Thankfully, gratefully, I can say I have had very few regrets, however, there is one thing I wish I could change in my life:
On June 30, 1992, I wish I would have turned off my Mac.