Raymond's grown daughter, Hazel Bankston, who was visiting last week from New Orleans, remembers being skeptical when Raymond and Jackie would talk during phone conversations over the years about King's involvement with them. But watching King interacting with the family at Jackie's bedside this week has reassured her.
"You know, certain people, God has put them there," Bankston says, turning to speak to King and then to a reporter. "I realized then who she was, and why she was there, and I thanked God for putting her there."
'He's been helping'
King was there to help when, several months ago, Louisiana Medicaid officials contacted the family for more information they couldn't provide and then Indiana canceled Medicaid.
With King's help, the aid was restored a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Jackie had gone without most of her medications, Raymond says.
About 3 a.m. Nov. 5, Jackie called Raymond's name before she passed out. Paramedics were able to restore her breathing before taking her to a hospital, but she never regained consciousness.
The family says doctors told them that although they don't know what caused the episode, the brain damage was extensive. They took her off life support Tuesday, and she quickly died.
Raymond tears up, sitting in the family's sparse living room, a space heater on the floor next to him.
He knows Bankston and King will help him take care of the children. But he worries about how he'll be able to afford a funeral for the woman he married 14 years ago, who, despite their age difference and her health problems, was larger than life.
Her memorial service will be at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Cobb Funeral Home.
They describe how Jackie hugged people all the time, the couple's fierce Crazy 8 card games, her kindness and generosity.
"I'll never find a woman like her again, I know. She was just about everything I expected," Raymond says.
"She always had a good spirit and wanted to give you peace," King adds.
How will the family heal from another setback?
"You pray and ask the Lord to help us through. That's what I've been doing all my life, praying to help us through this situation," Raymond says of the family's rough road. "And he's been helping. I know he has."
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