The late Senator Ted Kennedy with his wife Vicki who has opened up on Oprah about their 17-year marriage

Vicki Kennedy has described the awful Spring morning in 2008  her husband, Senator Edward Kennedy, first became ill with the fatal cancer diagnosis that later killed him.

She was speaking on the Oprah Winfrey show where she and Teddy’s son Teddy Junior reminisced about the late senator.

“We woke up as usual, went downstairs to have coffee. He took the dogs out for their first walk, as usual, and read the newspapers," Vicki says. "Then, he was taking the dogs out again, and suddenly I heard Judy, a wonderful friend of ours who's been with us at the Cape for a long time. She said, "Vicki! Vicki!" And I ran into the dining room, and Teddy was sitting in a chair there. I knew something very grave was happening. Doctors told them it was a fatal brain tumor.

"He was given a very, very short period of time, and he just didn't accept that," she says. "Two to four months one doctor said, but it just didn't compute with him."

He was determined to make the Obama inauguration Vicki recalled

“He was exercising every single day to be strong enough to be there," "He was absolutely determined, and it was with great joy."

"It was just really an incredible journey to be on with this man I absolutely adored," she says, "And [it was] an inspiration to watch how Teddy grappled with such a grave diagnosis but always looked forward with hope.".

During their old-fashioned courtship, Vicki says  Kennedy came every night for dinner with roses and sent her notes almost every. "It was really sweet," she says.

Vicki's children, Curran and Caroline from her first marriage also remembered their step father fondly. "I was this little shy 5-year-old, and I didn't quite know what to make of this man who, as mom said, came to dinner every night and was this amazing presence," Caroline says. "He just really made an effort to connect individually with me."

Curran, who was 8 years old when he met Kennedy, says his stepfather was amazing "In addition to being this father figure that was always there and always so supportive, he was just such a great friend," Curran "He and I shared a love of sports, which he kind of spent a lot of time to get to know well to have that bond with me."

Vicki says he was a wonderful step father  "It was such a surprise to me when we were still dating he said, 'Well, it's Halloween. I'll be there to take the children trick-or-treating,'" she says. "My neighbors were in shock. It was the talk of my street. . "He loved those kid things so much," she says. "I think his life was defined by family."

Teddy Junior remembered the father who was the rock for the whole family especially when tragedy befell them. "The fact that he was there to take care of everything was an incredible relief to us He instantly took on the situation, whatever it was. Whether it was John's death or whatever situation was facing our family, he was in the director's chair and he really helped all of us emotionally and logistically."

Ted says his father's faith was a cornerstone. "[That] comes out in the book, because he didn't really talk about his religion or his faith. But it is what sustained him," he says. "If you read the letter [to the Pope], you'll see the humility and faith that my father really had."

Vicki said her husband’s faith  was a case of actions speaking louder than words. "He didn't talk about [faith] in a preachy way," she says. "But he lived it, demonstrated it."

Ted  junior said his father remains an inspiration. "I teach my children that they have a lot to be proud of, but it doesn't mean that the Kennedys are any better or any less than anybody else. My father was certainly a great guy and an incredible human being, but it was what he stood for and what my uncles stood for that is the reason we're still talking about them today."