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Susan Mathison, Published October 12 2011

Mathison: Honoring lives well-lived

I would venture to guess that a large percentage of the U.S. population feels some connection to Steve Jobs, and thus was saddened by his passing.

I remember the thrill of getting an Apple MacIntosh computer during my last year of college at Stanford. It looked a bit like the much-ridiculed Pacer car, just without wheels.

But it was so fun to play with, especially since I had grimly slogged through a programming course in a dungeon-like computer lab a few months before. Fast-forward. My 4-year-old just downloaded PBS Kids on the sleek little iPad, and delights in making it work.

In looking back on Jobs’ accomplishments, I get the sense that he really cared about the user of his products and their experience in using them, from computers to music to phones to movies. His products enhanced communication in a beautiful way, and he was gifted in his ability to communicate their value with his audience.

His tributes are beautiful and touching, and come from the Oval Office and Fortune 500 boardrooms. But they also come from a lot of regular people who feel that Steve Jobs and Apple impacted their lives in a positive way. He received honors and accolades during his life, yet I’m sure he would have been touched by the ways he’s being remembered.

Funerals and prayer services make me sad for obvious reasons, but also because I wonder if those who’ve died ever received these tributes of their impact while they lived. Perhaps if they’d been aware of their own special qualities and deeds, they’d have made even more impact.

Maybe it’s time to honor these friends, family or even brief acquaintances by acknowledging their contributions to making life better, in big ways and small.

Consider the following:

1. Take a little time to reflect on the person to whom you are sending a birthday or holiday greeting, and tell them about your favorite memory of them or an admirable quality that they have. Use a stamp, and mail it. They will probably save that card forever.

2. Send an unexpected thank-you note to a friend or colleague who helped you out. Make it a weekly habit.

3. Remember and honor great customer service when someone makes an extra effort at a store, restaurant or other business. Fill out the comment card, or send a note to the manager.

4. Use Facebook or a group email to sing someone’s praises.

5. Ask for advice from someone you admire. People are often flattered and very willing to share their insights. You honor them by your desire to learn.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to make a tribute to someone who is an important part of your life. And while you are at it, think about your own obituary. How do you want to be remembered?


Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com to share her thoughts on beauty, wellness and life. She is inspired by her family, especially her 4-year-old son, Grant,

and her patients.