Roger and Chaz Ebert. (Getty Images)
Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
Their love story seemed made for the movies.
Among the many people - President Obama, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey -paying tribute to Roger Ebert is his wife of 20 years, Chaz Ebert, who recounts his final moments.
"We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away," Chaz said in a statement Thursday, soon after news of the film critic's death broke. "No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition."
She said the loss of "my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner" has left her "devastated."
She continued: "He fought a courageous fight. I've lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other."
Ebert is survived by his stepchildren, Sonia and Jay, and grandkids, Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph, Roger. "Just yesterday, he was saying how his grandchildren were 'the best things in my life,'" said Chaz.
She added, "He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life."
Last year, Roger wrote a blog post about his love for Chaz. In part, he wrote:
"She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading. If my cancer had come, and it would have, and Chaz had not been there with me, I can imagine a descent into lonely decrepitude. I was very sick. I might have vegetated in hopelessness. This woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. She was always there believing I could do it, and her love was like a wind forcing me back from the grave."