Thanksgiving has this week brought mixed emotions for American woman Kirsten Steinke, who continues to gain strength after a serious car crash near Waitomo two months ago.
Jim Steinke, speaking from his daughter's bedside at a hospital in Colorado, told the Waikato Times that Kirsten was sitting up in bed, walking to appointments and typing her own thoughts in her blog.
"[Kirsten] is virtually independent now. She does everything a person does," he said. "She still has a few minor issues and is struggling with the long-term effects of her brain injury, but we are pleased with her progress."
Ms Steinke, 28, and her husband, Kallan Stithem, 31, were involved in a car accident near Waitomo Caves on September 20. The pair were on their honeymoon when their vehicle collided with a concrete mixer at an intersection. Mr Stithem died at the scene.
Mr Steinke said his son-in-law's family were still struggling with their loss, especially at Thanksgiving, a time when families came together.
In her latest blog entry, Ms Steinke said Thanksgiving brought "mixed emotions to my heart".
"On one hand I know that it is incredibly unfair that I get to spend this day with my family and Kallan has passed. On the other hand I know that Kallan would want me to survive and thrive - just as I would have wanted the same for him if roles were reversed.
"I continue to get better and stronger each day at the hospital. There is no doubt in my mind [of] the love and support behind me, and my family is pushing that progress along. We all have so much to be thankful for."
Mr Steinke said his daughter was now walking with little help, and even walked to a recent therapist's session. It was an encouraging show of strength for Mr Steinke and his wife, Gerri. "Her stamina continues to increase . . . and everything is going well," he said.