Matthew Horwood/Getty ImagesTom Jones got emotional as he discussed the death of his wife, Melinda Rose Woodward, for the first time in public earlier this week at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. Jones described his final moments with Melinda, who died of cancer in April at age 75, as “very difficult, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

The 76-year-old pop idol explained, “We were married for 59 years, we knew each other since we were kids,” adding that he flew back to Los Angeles from an Asian tour to be by his wife’s side after finding out her condition was terminal.

The couple first met at age 12 in Jones’ hometown of Pontypridd, Wales, and were married at 16. They have one child together, Mark, 59, who is the singer’s manager.

Fighting back tears, Jones told the audience, “[S]he was such a natural person and Welsh, and we grew up together. Our sense of humor was the same, we came from the same town. She’s always been very important to me, throughout my life, now I realize she might be the most important thing in my life.”

Despite his reputation for being a ladies’ man, Jones said he always knew the marriage would last.

“It was solid, a solid marriage that nothing could shake,” he told the crowd. “I felt very lucky to have fallen in love at an early age, when we were teenagers, and we fell in love, not just in lust…We both knew this was forever, we both knew for as long as we’d be alive.”

Jones also revealed that he plans to go ahead with a European because his wife encouraged him to do so.

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