Country music fans all over the world mourned when George Jones passed away on April 26, 2013. But certainly no one felt the loss nearly as profoundly as his wife of 30 years, Nancy Jones, who recalls the final moments she spent with her husband.

For a few days before his death, George Jones lay in a hospital bed, suffering from complications from a respiratory infection, unable to speak. But just before he passed, as his wife was conferring with a doctor at his bedside, the country legend spoke.

“We were standing at the foot of the bed, and George just hadn’t said nothing, and all of a sudden, he opened his eyes, and I was fixin’ to go toward him, and the doctor kind of held me back, and George said, ‘Well, hello there.’ He said, ‘I’ve been looking for you,’” Nancy Jones tells Nashville’s Tennessean. “He said, ‘My name’s George Jones.’”

Within moments, the 81-year-old was gone.

“He closed his eyes, and that was the end of it,” Nancy Jones explains. “So, in my heart, I know he was talking to God.”

It’s George Jones’ wife who deserves much of the credit for his longevity. The Possum had a highly publicized battle with alcoholism, but she never wavered in her devotion to her spouse.

“God put me with him to help him get the devil out of him,” she says. “God put me there to do a job, and I did it.

“God told me, ‘If you leave him, he’s going to die,’” Nancy Jones adds. “And I said, ‘You know what — you’re too good of a man to let go to hell, and I’m not gonna let you do it.’

“You have to throw every bit of love in your body to live with someone like that,” she concludes.

Nancy Jones stayed by her husband’s side through moments of his out-of-control anger, which included both verbal and physical abuse at times, until he finally quit drinking in 1999, after a car accident that ruptured his liver and bruised his lung.

“He said, ‘God, if you let me get over this, I’ll never touch a cigarette or liquor again,’” Nancy Jones recounts. “I was warm all over. This time he meant it.”

A museum honoring George Jones’ iconic life and career opened in Nashville on April 24, just days before the second anniversary of his passing. It includes items from his childhood in Saratoga, Texas, as well as artifacts from his time in the Marines and throughout his iconic career. In addition, the 44,000-square foot venue features a restaurant, a theater with videos of Jones’ performances, a gift shop and a 75-foot rooftop bar overlooking the Cumberland River.