Kathie Lee Gifford returned to her station this morning, August 17, alongside Hoda Kotb on the last hour of “Today.” The host was doing the natural thing through her grieving process, getting back in the proverbial saddle of regular routine. Being surrounded by those who know and love one best is key in sustaining through grief, and amidst her words of gratitude for the mountain of supportive messages by text, Twitter, and in person, Kathie Lee shared a portrait of her 84-year-old, beloved husband as being a man at complete peace, feeling complete gratitude, and understanding grace as never before at the time of his passing on August 9. She shared a very personal story of a gift of stones that put life’s purpose into perspective.
Like many of his generation, Frank Gifford knew the grit and hardship of the Depression. Annotations in his mother’s Bible chronicled 29 moves through his childhood, as his oil worker father traveled to find jobs. Being grateful even to have dog food to eat, his experiences speak volumes about his career, both in football, and in broadcasting, demanding that he be the one accountable for a great show, one that became as he said, “a family event” on Monday Night Football, or learning playbooks for each of the three positions he played while with the New York Giants. He and Kathie Lee shared a more open, daily communication of faith as they married and raised a family, and some years back, on a trip to the Holy Land, at the Elah Brook, a story shared of the young shepherd king, David, the giant, Goliath, and the blessing of five stones changed the husband, father, and man forever.
“The miracle was not that the shepherd boy killed the giant, the miracle was that the boys who already had all the skills you would ever need trusted in a living God,” Kathie Lee shared, relating how the revelation of that truth completely changed her late husband’s life for the better. People were not shown the football star’s Hall of Fame bust, his broadcasting Emmy’s, or trophies when calling to visit, they were shown stones from that famous brook. Daughter, Cassidy, was given a stone as her high school graduation present, as was son, Cody, upon graduation from USC Film School. Her message was heartfelt and simple. “If you’re going to leave a legacy for your children, let it be that they have relationship with God, and they know how to find their stone. Let them throw it hard and well, like no one else can do.” She described how Frank’s question the Cassidy was “Where are you going to throw your stone for the kingdom of God?” She went on to elaborate that every person has a unique stone, and the unique path on which to throw it—and that is the true gift of life.
Kathie Lee got her own gift from Heavenly Joy, who sang, “This Little Light of Mine” from her phone after an earlier visit, and then presented a bit belated birthday cake today, angels “with a golden heart” to both Gifford and her co-host, and then an impromptu performance of “Jesus, There’s Something About That Name,” that brought down the box of tissues again, and big hugs for the superb little singer, who delivers truly from the spirit.