NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Tom Benson dreamed of his beloved Saints playing in another Super Bowl, and were it not for a botched call, his dream may have come true. This Super Bowl week it seems fitting to remember Tom Benson. Gayle Benson says she thinks about him all the time, especially at the horse farm in Paris, Kentucky.
“He loved, loved this place. It was like a dream of his. He loved it,” she said.
Benson Farm in Paris, Kentucky is like a 600 acre picture postcard. It was Tom Benson’s peaceful place. Gayle said when he first saw it he was blown away.
"We had looked at several others that weren't as attractive and when he saw this one it was like it was meant for us."
The landscape, the elaborate office building, guest house, and barns are set against rolling hills..
"This is the hilltop barn, we have four on the property," Benson said as she walked by beautiful horses being boarded at the farm.
Greg Bensel said it all began in 2014. Mr. Benson said he wanted to talk about getting into the horse business. After he bought his first he wanted a farm.
"That year we ended up buying yearlings at Keeneland sale. Two of those horses made it to the Kentucky Derby in 2016," Bensel said.
An Alex Harvie painting in their Kentucky dining room pays tribute to the first derby appearance.
"Mo Tom and Tom's Ready. I wanted them to stand out like we were winning! Tom just loved it. He thought it was a beautiful piece. Such a focal point in this room."
The Benson’s Greenwood lodge is a grand as it looks. 12,000 square feet of luxury with a movie theater, wine cellar, countless sitting areas. Tom Benson had his favorite spots.
"He enjoyed being in this room," she said walking into a spacious library. "He'd look out at the horses and the pool and all the books."
In the living room, there is a portrait of Tom Benson.
"That really does look exactly like him. It's like he's going to walk right off the painting," she said. "He'd say you're spending entirely too much time talking about me!"
Gayle said it's hard not to.
"He always sat in this chair," she said as she touched the empty head table seat in the dining room. She cried as she placed a pink rose on the table.
The trip to the farm was one of the last Tom Benson took before he died.
"Tom knew he was dying. He told me a couple of months before," she said.
"The last six months prior to him getting sick he told me he wasn't feeling well, and he didn't have energy. Every time he told me that I'd bring him to the hospital and they would give him an IV and he'd feel better again. He started telling me that he was tired. He was just tired of being around and he couldn't go anymore," she said in tears.
He told her there was a lot she would have to take care of but she found it hard to listen to him.
“I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to know all that,” she said. “He told me about the business all along the whole time we were married but I didn’t want to talk about it like it was the end of his life. I said Tom please, I don’t want to talk about this. He said you need to know this dahlin'. I need to tell you this.”
The last trip to the farm was hard. Gayle said he was weak and couldn’t lift his legs. She took him to Ochsner and admitted him. He was too weak to fight the Pneumonia and his kidneys started to fail.
“I had called all the executives in. I told him I loved him and it was OK. I was going to be OK. I told him I would love to see you open your eyes one more time,”she said choking back tears. “He opened his eyes and it was so clear and so blue. It was just beautiful and the doctor said it was a miracle because his heart was stopped. The Archbishop said he never had seen anything like it.”
Gayle Benson says she feels her husband's presence all the time because they were so close.
“I know he’s watching, and that makes me feel good.”