Thursday, October 5, 2023

"Last words" that ring true today!


Recently, I had the chance (a deep privilege really) to gather with three dear old friends to go fishing in Canada.  We try to go every fall, and while the weather, the fishing, the stories are different every year…. it’s always a ball!  Flying back to Atlanta with one of the “gang,” I was shown an email that highlighted the “last words of Steve Jobs” before he died back in 2011.  I have shared a few paragraphs from that email below.  I am not here to debate whether these were his actual “last words,” but I do want to share that they rang deeply true to me on several levels.  

First, I have had the chance (and honor) in my life to spend time with two people that I was very close to right before they died.  My Grandmother, who passed in 1998 at 97 years old, and my first boss at Kimberly-Clark who passed in 2009 when he was in his late 50’s.  I have written about both of them across numerous essays in this can read more about my grandmother at  and my old boss at   Both were very aware that they going to pass soon and while they were radically different people, from VERY different economic backgrounds and life experiences, the conversations at the end were very similar…. There was no talk about “stuff & things” or money, both wanted to reminisce about the people and stories of their lives… to try to remember and relive the poignant moments that were fleeting.  The first paragraph below of Steve Jobs' “last words” hits that exact chord when he says “true inner happiness does not come from material things”…


“Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well and cherish others. As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we realize that a $3000 or a $30 watch both tell the same time. You will realize that your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world. Whether you fly first class or economy, if the plane goes down—you go down with it. 


Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies and old friends, brothers and sisters, who you chat with, laugh with, talk with, sing with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven and earth, that is true happiness. Don’t educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up they will know the value of things and not the price.”



The second connection was from the most recent fishing trip and the laughter, and enjoyment that four old friends can have together year after year… whether fishing for Walleye’s on a new-found “fishing hole,” playing cribbage (or this year Binho… an awesome new game) , or making breakfast sandwiches on a new flat-top griddle, etc.…. it was a ball being together and we laughed, talked, and sang together just as Jobs mentions above!  Having old friends is certainly “true happiness!”

Take a moment after this essay to reconnect with your old friends and find a way to stay connected.  While hard for all of us, we need to try to remember Jobs' admonition about the $30 vs the $3000 watch…. In the end, it just won’t be important but the laughter and stories about the latest “fishing hole” (metaphorically) will be all that matters!!

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