In February, Steven P. Jobs had learned that, after years of fighting cancer, his time was becoming shorter. He quietly told a few acquaintances, and they, in turn, whispered to others. And so a pilgrimage began.
The calls trickled in at first. Just a few, then dozens, and in recent weeks, a nearly endless stream of people who wanted a few moments to say goodbye, according to people close to Mr. Jobs. Most were intercepted by his wife, Laurene. She would apologetically explain that he was too tired to receive many visitors. In his final weeks, he became so weak that it was hard for him to walk up the stairs of his own home anymore, she confided to one caller.
Some asked if they might try again tomorrow.
Sorry, she replied. He had only so much energy for farewells. The man who valued his privacy almost as much as his ability to leave his mark on the world had decided whom he most needed to see before he left.