Kathie Lee Gifford is finding strength in the Lord.
Following the Aug. 9 death of her husband, Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee returned to NBC's Today Monday after a weeklong absence, joining Hoda Kotb to co-host the show's fourth hour. After thanking Hoda and acknowledging the birth of Jenna Bush Hager's daughter, Poppy Hager, Kathie Lee opened up about losing Frank.
"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. That's something that my family and I went through last week. I wanna thank everybody for your love and your texts and your tweets," the 62-year-old widow began. "The outpouring has been extraordinary. It's a heck of a way to find out how loved you are. Believe me, my family and I got strength and comfort for it." Kathie Lee said Frank "would have loved" all the tributes to him, and he "laughed up until the very end."
"I just want everyone to know this was a man at complete peace in his life. He might've been the happiest, most content man at this point in his life," Kathie Lee said of her late husband. "Honestly, he's the most grateful human being I've ever, ever known," she added. "And that colored everything he did."
She then spoke for a few minutes about Frank's faith.
Kathie Lee said he "trusted in a living God—not a religion, but a living God."
Frank was especially proud of his stone collection, which he acquired after a trip to the Holy Land. It was something he passed on to his children, Cody Gifford, 25, and Cassidy Gifford, 22. Explaining the stones' significance, Kathie Lee told Hoda, "Cassidy graduated from high school. I don't know what she was expecting, but she got a stone. And we said to her, 'Cass, where are you going to throw your stone for the kingdom of God? What is your stone and where are you gonna throw it?' A week later, Cody graduated from college: USC film school. He got a stone. And if you ever leave a legacy for your children, let it be that you've taught them friendship with God and you've taught them to find their stone and show it. Show it, throw it, hard and well. And transform this hurting world that needs God's love so much."
The emotional host said her kids are doing extraordinary. "They've been a blessing to me. You have been an amazing blessing, Hoda. My family here. All of you out there who watch, we've felt your prayers, we're so grateful and Frank would want you to do this today: If you see a stone somewhere, pick it up and ask yourself that question. 'What is my stone? What is that gift that only I can do in this world to make it a better place?' And then spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well," she said.
"He would want you to stop a policeman and thank them for their service. He would want you to stop every fireman you see and thank them. Go to your local firehouse. He did it all the time. He would stop passing guards. He would stop traffic to roll down the window and say, 'Thank you for keeping the children safe!'"
"He was so grateful," Kathie Lee said of Frank, who was 84. "He knew what hard work was. He never had an entitled moment in his life. We will miss him so much. We all keep expecting him to come around the corner. I keep expecting him to, you know, go, 'What time is church?' He passed away instantly that morning, all dressed in what he knew was my favorite outfit. White shirt, very tight black jeans—he knew he looked good. Having his coffee, watching his TV, getting ready to go ready for church, excited about what we were going to have for lunch."
"I'm grateful that the Lord took him that way because the only thing that Frank has ever been afraid of his entire life was being a burden to those he loved. He never wanted to be hooked up to machines, he never wanted to lose his dignity. He'd seen so much of that through the years and that's what I prayed, that the Lord would take him the way he wanted to go," she continued. "And so I thank the Lord for that, for his grace to us as a family, and I pray his grace on all of you as well."
Watch a tribute to more stars who passed away in 2015:
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