NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Two weeks before his death, a sobbing Elvis Presley told his stepmother, 'I'm in terrible pain' -- a cry for help Dee Presley says will haunt her until she dies.
'I could hardly understand him because he was crying,' she said.
Elvis Presley died Aug. 16, 1977. His stepmother made her comments as a week-long observance of the 10th anniversary of Presley's death got under way in Memphis.
Dee Presley was married to the famed singer's father, Vernon, from 1960 -- at the height of Elvis's stardom -- until 1974 when they were divorced. 'It was love at first sight,' she said in an interview.
Dee Presley said her telephone conversation with Elvis shortly before his death was the first indication she had that something was seriously wrong with him.
Billy Stanley, her son by a previous marriage, called her and said Elvis was offering $5,000 if she would telephone him, she said.
'I called and said, 'Elvis, what in the world is wrong?' He wanted to know why I didn't come to Graceland (Elvis's Memphis home) anymore. He was talking about how scattered the family was. That was the very first I knew how upset Elvis was. He said he would see me on his next tour.
'He said, 'Dee, I'm sick. I'm in terrible pain.' I know now he was trying to tell me something -- it was a most touching goodbye.'
Presley said another telephone call years earlier, in 1958, led to her becoming part of the Presley family. She was in Germany where Elvis was stationed in the Army. After learning that his mother, Gladys, had died, she said she decided to call Elvis and express her sympathy.
'It was a very strange telephone conversation. I realized I had done the impossible -- called up Elvis. I spoke to him about how sorry I was and he invited me to coffee.'
Elvis was on military maneuvers when she came to the hotel where his father and grandfather were staying, but Vernon and Dee hit it off 'from day one,' she said.
She said Elvis told her he was not surprised and the marriage had his blessing.
When she and Vernon returned from their honeymoon, Elvis had redecorated their quarters -- even putting pictures on the walls for her three boys. And, the singer bought 'truckloads' of toys for her sons.
After her last conversation with Elvis, Dee Presely said she had a premonition and she warned Elvis' father that something 'terrible' was going to happen to one of her boys or his son. She said that before Elvis's death, she had a strong feeling a tragedy was looming.
Dee and Vernon Presley remained friends after their divorce, she said, and might have gotten back together someday if he had not died in 1979. His former wife weeps when she talks about the deaths of her stepson and his father.
'He was so wonderful. That's the reason I've never remarried. I'm always looking for another Vernon Presley.'
Since then, Dee Presley has worked as a sales clerk in a department store -- a job she described as 'the best therapy in the world -- and now does public relations in Nashville. She also travels with Elvis impersonator Elvis Wade and introduces him when he performs.
'We're getting ready to do another show,' she said.