Best of Beth Bales: RIP Steve Jobs—You Changed My World

Put Steve Jobs in the same category as Walt Disney. They were magic-makers of the first order.

  • Editor's note: Beth Bales is taking a week off to check off some items on her holiday to-do list. So we're re-publishing a few of her previous columns this week. This one originally ran on Oct. 6, 2011, which is more recent than most of our "Best of Beth" selections. But with Christmas shopping season in full swing and visions of Apples dancing in some folks' heads, we thought it might be appropriate to re-gift this one as Beth's "holiday special" tribute to Steve Jobs.


When the world found out in February 1999 that Walter Payton needed a liver transplant, I was not particularly moved. It just didn’t pertain much to my life. Then, a few weeks later, film critic Gene Siskel died. “I am so very, very sad,” I told my husband when he delivered the news. “That’s the way other people feel about Walter Payton,” he said, mildly, but with import that has stuck all these years. 

That sadness I felt when Siskel died doesn’t BEGIN to cover how I felt when my middle daughter, the child who loves all things Apple, who convinced me that giving her dad an iPad for Christmas would be a fabulous, if extravagant gift, who couldn’t wait to order the MacBook she received for her high school graduation, called Wednesday night to tell me, “Well, I suppose you heard Steve Jobs died.”

Well, no, until she called I had not. I’d ignored the texts I’d received on my phone (an iPhone, of course!), because we were eating dinner and I pretty much ban all texting during meals. I’ll answer phone calls during dinner, but only to say, “we’re eating dinner; can I call you back?” But in this case, the daughter calling (each of my three girls has her own ringtone) was writing a tax paper and awaiting my edits and I thought the call pertained to that. (And please! My edits were for grammar. Her aunt, Ms. CPA, was double-checking the tax stuff.) 

It was fitting she delivered the news, instead of my hearing it via the texts which were, indeed, about his death.

Steve Jobs is dead. It’s hardly surprising news, but it’s very sad. He was a visionary. I’ve always put him in the same exclusive category as Walt Disney, another true visionary, two people who see the world in a completely different way, who envision things as they could be, and then make that happen. Had they lived together, a neat trick of the space/time continuum, as the saying goes, can you IMAGINE the magic they might have made? I cannot. But I do mourn what might have been.

Our transition to an Apple household was gradual and came about by happenstance. My husband and I took over payments for an Apple my dad purchased through the Batavia School District (he was a teacher) after he died in 1991. I never looked back. I never wanted to. I never will. That’s somewhat easier to do when you’re self-employed, as I have been for nearly 20 years, though I also work outside the home, part-time now, and do manage to navigate my Windows machine there. 

When it was new, and the only such store in the Chicago suburbs, I regarded the Woodfield Apple store as the promised land. In fact, I got up early one New Year’s Day to check it out for the first time with Apple-loving buddy Larry Furnish of Geneva, IL. Our spouses thought we were crazy. We were not. 

We are a household with five iPhones, five iPods (besides older ones now retired but still in drawers somewhere) three MacBooks, two iMacs, one iPad and one Apple TV. The kid who doesn’t have a Mac laptop? She wishes she did. 

My mind returns time and again to Steve Jobs’ remarkable vision of a world of possibilities, of a different way of interacting with electronics. Who’d have known 10 years ago I would use my iPhone, and the navigation system on it, to find my way home from a neighborhood in north Mill Creek, when I’d gotten myself completely turned around (yes, that’s actually true ...) Who’d have known that the camera in a phone would be good enough that I frequently use it to take photos for Patch? Who’d have guessed 10 years ago that I’d leave a movie and, while still in the car in the parking lot, use my phone to access the Internet Movie Database site, via its iPhone app, to find out who played the daughter of the Brad Pitt character in Moneyball and have the answer before we hit Route 64? (My husband was driving, never fear.) Who’d have known, 10 years ago, that doctors would utilize iPads, that ... so many things?

Well, Steve Jobs would. And did.

In the midst of our own sorrow, let us not forget he leaves behind a wife and four children, whose pain is deep, and personal, and ever-lasting.

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. You changed the world.

Rudy October 11, 2011 at 01:41 AM
Good thing I have never been to church then.
MIKE October 16, 2011 at 08:30 AM
Oh get with it Vincent R., this is the new millenium. Millions of couples "sire" children out of wedlock, you are a prude and need to open up. I do not think poor father is a appropriate label to attach to Steve Job. Do you know all the details on his parenthood status, skills and devotion to his kids. What a cheap shot after a visionary like Jobs has departed. My guess is you spend too much time in church and then leave & make insensative comments. Steve Jobs R.I.P.
MIKE October 16, 2011 at 08:35 AM
Gates is the most ruthless businessman out there. Don't be disgused by his philanthropy which is must appreciated by the free world. He has an obligation to make those contributions. Gates "sold out" to me when he perjured and lied at the Microsoft trial years ago. Gates dominated the computer software world and no one was strong enough to stand up to him, not even the U.S. Government which failed miserable in prosecuting Gates and his empire for anti trust abuses. Long live apple!
Tony Cesare December 02, 2011 at 03:09 PM
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again. - Steve Jobs Do I give a damn about his personal life? No, and neither should you.
forest barbieri December 02, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Thanks Tony! Well said! As Sir Winston once said to Lady Astor when she admonished him for being drunk, "Lady Astor, I may be drunk tonight, but tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be ugly." Some people just do not get it.


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