Jan. 19, 2011: The husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Tuesday that his wife would recover and stay in office.
Mark Kelly, in a meeting with local news media on Jan. 18, said Giffords loves her work in the U.S. House of Representatives and would almost certainly return to work once she recovers from a gunshot wound.
"She's going to come back strong and more committed than ever," Kelly said.
Giffords remains in serious condition at University Medical Center after being shot through the head during a meeting with constituents at a Northwest Safeway on Saturday, Jan. 8.
The alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, killed six people in the shooting spree. Another 14 people were injured, including Giffords.
Kelly described his wife, who recently was re-elected to a third term in the House, as one of the hardest working members of Congress. He also said he anticipates she would return to the site of the shooting for future events.
"I'd be shocked if the first thing she does is not 'Congress On Your Corner' at that Safeway," Kelly said.
Giffords held events at the same shopping center on at least three previous occasions. She spent most weekends at home in Tucson before the attack and attended numerous public events.
Kelly said he and his wife had spoken in the past about safety concerns involving Giffords' many constituent events.
"We talked about it," Kelly said. "She would say, you know, 'I'm somewhat concerned that at some point somebody's going to shoot me.'"
He told Giffords that attacks on members of Congress were rare occurrences in modern America, the most recent fatal incident being the killing of California Congressman Leo Ryan in 1978. Ryan was investigating the activities of People's Temple founder, Rev. Jim Jones.
Kelly also told reporters that Giffords rebuffed his suggestions that she curtail the number of public events she holds.
"She said no, that's her job, and she's very dedicated to it," Kelly said.
Throughout the ordeal, Giffords has made steady progress, according to information doctors have released with permission from her family.
Kelly said Giffords recognizes who's in the room with her and who's speaking.
"When I'm sitting right there, she knows when it's me as compared to somebody else," he said. "She takes my ring and starts playing with it. She'll put it on her finger; she'll flip it around to the other."
The next step in her recovery is expected to be a transfer to a long-term rehabilitation clinic.
The congresswoman's office released details Wednesday about a planned moved to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston, Texas. She could be transferred to the new location as soon as Friday.
Kelly has a home in Houston, near to where he trains as a Navy pilot and Space Shuttle astronaut.
Giffords has not been told of the injuries and loss of lives that occurred the day she was shot, Kelly said.
"I've told her where she is, and she certainly recognizes that she has a serious injury, but she doesn't know what that is," Kelly said. He said doctors don't think she has a recollection of the incident.
Since the shooting, offers of support from the community have flown in at a rate that has been nearly impossible for Kelly to maintain, he said. He estimated that he has more than 700 unanswered e-mails.
One of the most moving expressions came from a 10-year-old boy who sent a card with hopes that Giffords gets well, and something else.
"And then if you go to the back of the card, glued, taped to the back is an envelope with his lunch money in it," Kelly said.
Giffords' office identified the boy as Isaac Saldana, a fourth grader at Craycroft Elementary School. He sent the congresswoman $2.52.
He said the best way people can help the congresswoman would be to volunteer with a charity and help others in their community.
"I think what she would want, if there are people who want to help, is for people to go out in their community and do something important," Kelly said. "Volunteer at the Community Food Bank."
Members of Giffords office staff have set up an e-mail account to receive well wishes. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.