NEWTON (CBS) – The family of a World War II veteran is grateful for a caregiver who gave them a chance to save goodbye as their father lost his battle with coronavirus.

Jack Ahrens was a Navy officer in the war, experiencing history we can only read about.

He was living at The Falls at Cordingly Dam, an assisted living facility in Newton, when he came down with COVID-19. His family, originally from Duxbury and Orleans, wasn’t able to visit him because of the restrictions brought on by the spread of the virus.

Jack Ahrens. (Photo credit: John Ahrens)

“My dad was obviously my hero. He was my national treasure,” Jack’s son John Ahrens told WBZ-TV about his father from in Colorado.

John got the call on a Tuesday and by Friday his 96-year-old father was gone.

“He was God sent,” John said, referring to his father’s final friend, Jason Last, who was caring for him at The Falls at Cordingly Dam.

Jason wouldn’t leave Jack’s side and gave Jack and his family something so special.

“Oh, he would light up and he would always say, ‘Oh boy, oh boy, oh I’m so loved! I’m so loved,” Jason, a director of plan operations for the facility’s parent company, told WBZ.

It was a heartfelt face-to-face farewell the family wouldn’t have had otherwise, with some out of state and others blocked by the circumstances.

“Being able to give us a FaceTime call, give us those cries, give us those laughs, giving us that opportunity to really say our goodbyes,” John Ahrens said.

John Ahrens and his father Jack. (Photo credit: John Ahrens)

In those moments the family spoke about Jack’s love for the ocean, the Cape and his family, enjoying laughs similar to whenever Jack ever so humbly opened up about the war and like a true hero, he left this world the only way he knew how.

“I saw my dad salute,” Ahrens said.

A final salute from a member of our greatest generation, made possible because of something so undeniably human.

“Compassion is what we are supposed to do, supposed to do as humans. That closure in life and to make sure they have that proper closure,” Jason Last explained.

Jack Ahrens left behind a memoir, titled “One Man’s Journey,” a story his family, and now Jason, will have forever.

Lisa Gresci

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