Merle Haggard's recent hospitalization for pneumonia turned out to be quite serious -- and the country icon says that he's very thankful for all of those that prayed for him and helped him get better.

"I guess I was nearly dead," Haggard says with a bit of a chuckle during a call to the Willie's Roadhouse SiriusXM station. It's not clear how much of an exaggeration that statement is, but Haggard goes on to explain that he was diagnosed with double pneumonia -- that is, a bout of pneumonia that affects both lungs.

"They couldn't tell whether I had cancer returned or whether I just had pneumonia," he continues. "They had to wait until they got the pneumonia under control before we could tell, so it's been kind of a tough couple of weeks."

As it turns out, it was none other than Jackie Autry -- the wife of the late Gene Autry -- who talked Haggard into going to the hospital in the first place.

"We were up here doing a show, and I tried to go out, and I couldn't do it," he recalls. "And she talked me into coming into this hospital and getting some help ..."

Haggard goes on to thank the doctors and nurses who helped him get better, as well as his band, "for puttin' up with me," and the fans who sent their prayers "because there have been prayers all over the world, and I want to thank the fans for doing that, because it certainly got the job done." The country legend also thanks God, "for allowing me to have another Christmas."

His hospital stay forced Haggard to postpone his December tour dates, which are being rescheduled for January and February, according to a Facebook post.