Tears flowed during the fourth hour of Monday morning’s “Today” show with Kathie Lee Gifford notably absent after the sudden death of her husband Frank Gifford on Sunday.
Jenna Bush Hager filled in for Kathie Lee alongside an emotional Hoda Kotb, and the two spent about 20 minutes of the hour sharing memories of Frank Gifford.
Kotb said she was on a flight when Gifford, who was 84, died.
“I landed and I looked at my phone…and I saw a text from Kathie, Kathie Lee, and she left a voicemail too that Frank has passed,” Kotb shared. “She asked for people not to come to her house yesterday so I got out of the airport and drove to her house.”
She said her co-host was happy that Kotb visited even though she’d been asked not to.
Kotb said Kathie Lee is leaning on her faith following her husband’s death, and she was “rejoicing in his life” rather than mourning his death.
“I was crying and she was holding my hand and she said, ‘let me tell you something, let me tell you what a tragedy is… you know [when young kids with cancer die], that’s a tragedy.’”
Kotb said Kathie Lee opting not to look at the Football Hall of Famer’s death as a tragedy.
“She said, ‘He built this family. He is a triumph.’ She said, ‘remember that,’” Kotb said.
Bush Hager was also emotional when remembering Frank Gifford and the two sniffled through their segment and spoke of him in the present tense at times as clips played of his appearances on the morning show.
“It’s hard to look at those clips,” Kotb said. “It feels like just yesterday we were all sitting here and she was making jokes about him and her.”
She later added, “She is in our prayers, Kat, I don’t know if you are watching—she’s probably not—but I miss you and I love you.”
It turns out Kathie Lee was watching. She tweeted almost immediately after their segment.
Thank you Hoda and Jenna for your love and beautiful tribute to Frank. I'm in tears.— Kathie Lee Gifford (@KathieLGifford) August 10, 2015