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Husband: Giffords had reunion with staff in Tucson

A weekend visit home to Tucson that included a reunion with staff members, Father’s Day breakfast and Mexican takeout food was good medicine for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she recovers from being shot, her astronaut husband said.

Giffords and Mark Kelly also took a ride Saturday to see familiar downtown sights before an emotional reunion later in the day with her staff, Kelly told the Arizona Daily Star.

The meeting included Ron Barber, who also was injured in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13.

On Sunday, the couple and Giffords’ family had a Father’s Day breakfast of eggs, bagels, fruit salad and leftover Mexican food.

By 11 a.m., they were back in the air headed for Houston, where Giffords will continue rehabilitation therapy as an outpatient.

“After everything she’s been through, this was a milestone,” Kelly told the newspaper. “It was motivational for her to drive through the district and see some of the people she represents and see how things are.”

Giffords knows how many people were killed or injured in the shooting but isn’t aware that her staffer, Gabe Zimmerman, and her friend, federal Judge John Roll, were among those who died, Kelly said.

He and others are gradually revealing details about the tragedy to avoid overwhelming her.

During the reunion, Giffords climbed a flight of stairs at the home of one staff member, her spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, told The Associated Press.

“When I was in Houston, I saw her walking on her own, but to see her climb a flight of 18 steps?” he said. “Not a visit has gone by when I haven’t seen some clear progress.”

Kelly told the Star that Giffords is struggling with her speech, but “as far as what she remembers and comprehends, at times I feel she’s 100 percent.”

“Her communication skills are getting better every week,” he said. “Six months from now we are all going to be amazed at where she is.”

Giffords had mixed emotions about her visit.

“She was happy to come back, but at the same time it was only for a weekend,” Kelly said.

Giffords wants to visit Tucson as often as possible, Karamargin told the AP.

“Seeing what a positive impact the visit had on her, and how much of a success it was, I think we’re going to try to make it happen soon,” he said, although he wasn’t sure when.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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