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.
Mr. Jobs spent his final weeks — as he had spent most of his life — in tight control of his choices. He invited a close friend, the physician Dean Ornish, a preventive health advocate, to join him for sushi at one of his favorite restaurants, Jin Sho in Palo Alto. He said goodbye to longtime colleagues including the venture capitalist John Doerr, the Apple board member Bill Campbell and the Disney chief executive Robert A. Iger. He offered Apple’s executives advice on unveiling the iPhone 4S, which occurred on Tuesday. He spoke to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. He started a new drug regime, and told some friends that there was reason for hope.
But, mostly, he spent time with his wife and children — who will now oversee a fortune of at least $6.5 billion, and, in addition to their grief, take on responsibility for tending to the legacy of someone who was as much a symbol as a man.
“Steve made choices,” Dr. Ornish said. “I once asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.’ ”
“But for Steve, it was all about living life on his own terms and not wasting a moment with things he didn’t think were important. He was aware that his time on earth was limited. He wanted control of what he did with the choices that were left.”
In his final months, Mr. Jobs’s home — a large and comfortable but relatively modest brick house in a residential neighborhood — was surrounded by security guards. His driveway’s gate was flanked by two black S.U.V.’s.
On Thursday, as online eulogies multiplied and the walls of Apple stores in Taiwan, New York, Shanghai and Frankfurt were papered with hand-drawn cards, the S.U.V.’s were removed and the sidewalk at his home became a garland of bouquets, candles and a pile of apples, each with one bite carefully removed.
“Everyone always wanted a piece of Steve,” said one acquaintance who, in Mr. Jobs’s final weeks, was rebuffed when he sought an opportunity to say goodbye. “He created all these layers to protect himself from the fan boys and other peoples’ expectations and the distractions that have destroyed so many other companies.
“But once you’re gone, you belong to the world.”
Mr. Jobs’s biographer, Mr. Isaacson, whose book will be published in two weeks, asked him why so private a man had consented to the questions of someone writing a book. “I wanted my kids to know me,” Mr. Jobs replied, Mr. Isaacson wrote Thursday in an essay on Time.com. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
Because of that privacy, little is known yet of what Mr. Jobs’s heirs will do with his wealth. Unlike many prominent business people, he has never disclosed plans to give large amounts to charity. His shares in Disney, which Mr. Jobs acquired when the entertainment company purchased his animated film company, Pixar, are worth about $4.4 billion. That is double the $2.1 billion value of his shares in Apple, perhaps surprising given that he is best known for the computer company he founded.
Mr. Jobs’s emphasis on secrecy, say acquaintances, led him to shy away from large public donations. At one point, Mr. Jobs was asked by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates to give a majority of his wealth to philanthropy alongside a number of prominent executives like Mr. Gates and Warren E. Buffett. But Mr. Jobs declined, according to a person with direct knowledge of Mr. Jobs’s decision.