In Depth

Steve Jobs’ told his daughter ‘you smell like a toilet’ on his deathbed

Lisa Brennan-Jobs new memoir recalls strained relationship with Apple supremo

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his daughter she “smelled like a toilet” when she visited him on his deathbed, she writes in a new memoir about their troubled relationship.

The new book, Small Fry, details the estranged relationship that existed between the tech entrepreneur and his first daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and how she felt towards her father after years of him denying she was his.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ new book, Small Fry, describes her estrangement from the tech entrepreneur, who for years denied that she was his.

Although Jobs eventually acknowledged Brennan-Jobs as his daughter, “he maintained a distant cold relationship towards his eldest child until he died”, says The Independent.

In an excerpt of the book published in Vanity Fair, Brennan-Jobs recalls how Jobs told her while he was dying of pancreatic cancer that the rose-scented spray she was wearing made her smell like a toilet.

Brennan-Jobs visited her dad every other month for the year before his death aged 56 in 2011. On one such visit, when her dad was so sick he could barely get out of bed, she had a rude awakening when she hugged him goodbye.

“When we hugged, I could feel his vertebrae, his ribs. He smelled musty, like medicine sweat,” she wrote.

Brennan-Jobs, turned to leave and that’s when her dad called out, “Lis?”

“Yeah?” she asked.

“You smell like a toilet,” she recalls him saying.

The book also relays the sour beginning to their relationship. Jobs publicly denied he was her father until 1980, when the San Mateo district attorney forced him to take a paternity test and provide child support.

Although he apologised for his absence, the relationship was always strained, Brennan-Jobs writes, consisting of short visits where the pair would roller-skate amid “long pauses” in conversation.

“For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself,” she says. “My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light.”

In one memory she recollected how she had heard that her father got a new Porsche whenever he scratched his, so she asked him if she could have his car when he was done with it.

Brennan-Jobs said he replied: “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”

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