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Kathie Lee Gifford: Frank Gifford had 'best medical report in 8 years' before death

Kathie Lee Gifford talks about husband Frank Gifford's strong health before his death and the touching moment with her children during her return to TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

Only two days before his death at 84 years old earlier this month, Frank Gifford received his best medical check-up in nearly a decade, wife Kathie Lee Gifford said on TODAY Friday.

"You know what I hadn't told people?" Gifford said while reminiscing about Frank with Hoda Kotb and Regis Philbin. "He had just gotten the best medical report he'd had in eight years on Friday. He was doing great."

Philbin also remembered how strong the pro football Hall of Famer and former New York Giants star looked while having dinner with him only eight days before his death on Aug. 9.

"When the Lord calls you home, you go home,'' Gifford said. "What are you going to do, argue with the Lord? I don't think so."

Making the day of his death even more trying is that one of their two children, daughter Cassidy, 22, was on a Delta Air Lines flight to Sante Fe, New Mexico when Frank passed away. The actress was getting set to shoot her sixth film, "Angels and Outlaws," and was making a connecting flight in St. Paul, Minnesota, while the family was trying to contact her. Kathie Lee reached out to Delta, which had a representative track her down in St. Paul to inform her to call home right away.

"The hardest part of the day other than finding Frank was that we couldn't get in touch with Cass because she was in the air,'' Kathie Lee said. "The worst thing you want to do is ever get news like that from a monitor while you're walking wherever you are. We got her home and we pulled the wagons together."

The couple's two children, Cassidy and Cody, 25, also had a heartwarming moment with their mother when they surprised her by showing up on the set of TODAY when Kathie Lee made her return to the show on Monday for the first time since Frank's death. Cody stood and watched her the whole time she was on air to help give his mother strength.

"He's become quite the young man,'' Kathie Lee said.

The tributes for Frank have poured in since his death, including the Giants announcing they will wear a No. 16 patch on their helmets this season in his honor. Kathie Lee called the outpouring of love "extraordinary,'' and also delivered her own touching remembrance of her husband.

American Express is also releasing a new commercial featuring vintage footage of Frank from an ad spot for the company in the 1960s along with clips of other celebrity endorsers over the years, including Jerry Seinfeld and Tina Fey. Kathie Lee said she had never seen the footage before.

"I sobbed when I saw it the other day,'' she said.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.