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I sat by Dad's bedside for that final week in the nursing home. He opened his eyes a few times and tried to speak, but he couldn't. I held his hand; he squeezed mine once or twice. The morning he died, two angels from hospice care sat with my wife and me by his bedside; the nursing staff and Dr. Devan hovered about as well. Betsy Brett--the hospice supervisor who had been on the case since Rose died and had seen Dad rage against his twilight--explained how it would be. His breathing would become shallower, then more intermittent, then stop. And so it went: Dad seemed to sigh at the end. He inhaled and sighed and was gone. He was not a religious man, but there was a gorgeous serenity in this moment--and there was a certain satisfaction for me too, surrounded by the caregivers who had helped me through this passage toward my own maturity, caregivers who really knew how to give care.
TO WATCH JOE KLEIN TALK ABOUT HIS STORY, GO TO time.com/klein_video