When Kathie Lee Gifford's husband, Frank Gifford passed away in 2015, after 29 years of marriage, the TV host and singer was understandably devastated by his loss. Still, while she continues to mourn his death, Gifford reveals exclusively to PopCulture.com how his passing was something she had prepared herself for long before it actually happened, which is why she was able to move on with her life.
"The last three years were tremendous," Gifford told PopCulture.com. "Frank died four years ago. And I was pretty good about that, because I was expecting it. Not as suddenly as it happened, but he'd been failing. He was one week shy of 85 when he passed. He was still in great shape, still working out. He could remember every single person he'd ever played football with on every team. But it was the recent memory things that were starting to happen. We had his brain given to science for study because of all the injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and all of that.
"It turns out that he was riddled with CTE," she continued. "But the part of his brain that wasn't affected by it is what they call heavy brain, was the brain of a 20-year-old man. And that's because he was always learning something and he was always working out and he was always interested in things. I mean, we, it's not just your body you need to exercise. He went to Israel with me in 2012 and it absolutely changed his life. He realized that all of his life he'd had a religion, not a relationship."
Frank, who played for the New York Giants before becoming a sports broadcaster, had three children from a previous marriage, and two – Cody and Cassidy – with Gifford. While he did not live to see his youngest two find the loves of their life, Gifford insists her son and daughter are doing well and thriving in both their personal and professional lives.
"They're adults. They're well on their way to big, exciting lives," Gifford gushed. "My son is engaged, my daughter's about to become engaged so, we're having a wedding at my house in September. And maybe another one real soon right after that. It's thrilling 'cause I was an instant grandmother with Frank 'cause he had grandchildren already, but there's nothing like your own, I'm sure."
Gifford, who just received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nashville Pops Orchestra, left the Today Show last year, and is currently making her home in Music City, where she is writing songs and performing.
"Almost everything is music," said the 66-year-old. "I've been writing. Because of the relationship with [songwriter Brett James], I have street cred, you know? And a lot of people have just been very nice to say, 'Yeah, yeah, I hear she can write; let's do a write.' So I've done about 25-30 writes with different people.
"I've got all these oratorios," she remarked. "I've written these films; I'm producing a few with my son. I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but it's, it's a very full and exciting life."
Photo Credit: Getty / Greg Doherty