Tag Archives: memories

Thanks For Dropping By: In Loving Memory of Ralph Nylander

Note: This is a little late, and while I probably should have had this available weeks ago, for obvious reasons it’s been extremely difficult to write anything, let alone this. Despite the delay, I’ve decide to put this up because I told myself I would and for my grandfather, but don’t feel any obligation to read it.

I want to tell you about my grandfather. No, I’m not going to give you a biography, or tell you stories about his time in the Navy in World War II, or things like that. There are other people who were closer to those stories who could tell them better than I could. Instead, I want to tell you about the man I personally knew during my life.

The first thing you would probably notice is that he was a quiet man. He wasn’t the most talkative, and I can’t recall one incident where I ever heard him raise his voice. He was always calm in the face of adversity, almost Zen-like.

My grandfather worked. A lot. As an electrician, he was always working on different properties and on the move. But even then, he always had some project he was working on, building something, fixing something, renovating something. He was always happiest with something to do. I think when he finally retired, more out of necessity because his body just wouldn’t take it anymore than an actual desire to retire, it was one of the hardest things he had to do.

Partly because of all his work, we always knew that if we ever needed anything, any piece of equipment, any tool, he probably had it. My grandfather was a packrat, something that both my father and I have inherited, although not on the level my grandfather showed. About ten years ago, when my grandparents were moving after having been in their house for more than 20 years, we had to help them clean the house out of things they weren’t going to take with them. Ultimately, we had to haul off two 40-foot dumpsters, something that, just by looking at him, he wasn’t happy about in the least. It was a kind of emotional pain that was difficult to see on such a kind man.

And my grandfather was a very kind and polite man. Another thing that people would notice after visiting with him for a while was…well, it’s really hard to describe. It was as though he always had a smile in his eyes, a twinkle that never left.

Despite his penchant for work (and work he did; right before going in for knee replacement surgery, he was up on the roof of their house installing a satellite dish), he always had time for his family. At the house I grew up in in my earlier years, he had a shop attached to the garage, and he came by often to get tools and equipment, make phone calls, and other stuff. But he always made time for me if I was there and never turned me away. He was a family man, and even as his health was failing, you could see in his eyes that he loved having his family around and was very protective of us.

And through everything, my grandfather was one of the most polite men I’ve ever known. Always kind and gentle, even in the hospital when he was the most uncomfortable, he would thanks the nurses for their help. As the Alzheimer’s Disease did its work and his body was failing, who a person is at their core really comes through. And this was who he was. That kindness and politeness never left him the whole time. He even seemed uncomfortable, not just because of the physical pain, but because people were making such a fuss over him. He was always self-effacing, never wanting accolades or fusses made over him. I remember that during my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, while he loved having his family around, he felt embarrassed and mostly tolerated the fact people were there to celebrate him and my grandmother. He never felt he needed to be praised for simply doing the right thing, because you’re supposed to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

My grandfather loved visitors, though, up until the end. When people were leaving, he always said “Thanks for dropping by.” And even near the end, if we were just getting up to go to another part of the room, he would always be sure to say “Thanks for dropping by.”

On July 29, 2012, my grandfather, Ralph Nylander, passed away after complications from Alzheimer’s disease. There are some who say that we’re only passing through this life, that it’s temporary no matter what you do. I consider myself very lucky to be his grandson and to have had him pass through my life. I’ve always said that people should be treated politely, but shouldn’t get genuine respect by default. That kind of respect needs to be earned and deserved. And my grandfather was most deserving of that respect. He would probably be incredibly embarrassed to be reading this as he hated this kind of fuss over him, but it needs to be said nonetheless. He was a kind, gentle, hard-working man who just did the right thing and led a good life. Someone that others could look up to and respect. I guess what I really want to say is this:

Thanks for dropping by, Grandpa.

We miss you…

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Steve Jobs: Memories of a Man I Never Met

Thanks SteveYou’ll have to forgive some of the following, as I’m writing this while recovering from the flu.

It’s an odd feeling writing this post, especially as I recently started reading The Little Kingdom, purely by coincidence. As everyone knows by now, Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. By now, shrines have been popping up at your local Apple store. No, I’m serious. Go check your local store. There’s probably one there.

I never met the man, but knew him by reputation and by his products. I remember Apple in the early years. The first computer I used regularly and learned to program on was an Apple II. I’m sure that many who grew up in the ’80s had an Apple computer in their classroom. This was in the days when the Apple logo was rainbow-colored, and had not yet become the current classy metallic apple.

I remember the hard times for Apple. Most considered them a dying voice in the computer industry during the ’90s, as the PC took over the market and shoved Apple to the side. I remember Steve Jobs being forced out, and the company being driven further down. But at the time, Apple was so iconic that my class was assigned to learn about Jobs and Woz during one computer class in middle school, during the early ’90s.

And I remember Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, first as the interim CEO, then as the permanent CEO. And Apple’s triumphant rise, lead by the release of the iPod. And Apple became a force to be reckoned with again.

The above was a brief recollection of Apple and Steve Jobs’ influence on its story from my perspective growing up at the same time Apple did. But for Jobs’ personal influence on people’s lives, I can say this: He made computers cool and technology fun. I have little doubt that consumer electronics would not be where they are today without him. Because of Jobs’ design and influence, he made technology and computers accessible to the layman, something that had primarily only been used by the military and major corporations until Jobs’ and Woz’s little company came along. And in the last decade, he made it cool with devices like the iPod for music lovers, and iPhones changing the way we communicate (some say that Star Trek was the inspiration for a lot of technological advances, but the communicator had nothing on the iPhone). I would even go so far as to say that Apple became sexy. The home computer market grew and developed as new versions of the Mac were released, providing ease of use beyond where others had failed. With the founding of Pixar, Jobs made computers even cooler and led the way in feature-length computer animation, something that inspired my own studies in college.

Yes, Steve Jobs did have a reputation which preceded him. He was known to be demanding in the best of times, and even a jerk at others. But he was a perfectionist with a vision, something that’s not necessarily bad. He marched to his own drummer, in spite of what others said or did, and look at the result, becoming a legend in his own lifetime. Not to mention that when you get that powerful and influential, these kinds of stories will come out. Walt Disney has had similar stories about him, a man whose legacy has ironically intersected with Jobs’ own. But even people who derided Jobs for his perfectionism still seemed to love and respect him for his vision.

There are many words that people have used to describe Steve Jobs since his passing yesterday. Pioneer. Visionary. Genius. Personally, I feel that trying to describe the man in one word would invariably come up short. I will say that he was the coolest of nerds, and he ultimately helped to make the world a smaller place by connecting everyone a little more closely, whether it be through direct communication or through simply being part of a community, whether they be Apple enthusiasts, music-lovers, or simply family who communicate through the technology he created. At the same time, today my iPod’s screen looks a little darker.

I’ll leave you with one of the more inspirational videos I’ve seen, and it happens to be of Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University.

Steven Paul Jobs, 1955-2011

Credit for the Apple Logo with Steve Jobs’ silhouette at the top of this article, titled “Thanks Steve,” goes to Jonathan Mark Long.