BOSTON (CBS) – When John and Karen Odom fly home to California this Friday, they will be celebrating a huge milestone in John’s recovery. Nearly five months after he was gravely injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, he is finally well enough to go home.
“Karen and I will be able to walk down to the village where we live, grab a cup of coffee and walk along the beach. In the evening, we can have a glass of wine on the balcony of our home and watch the sunset. I cannot wait for that,” John told WBZ-TV in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
It’s especially exciting because, for months, John didn’t know if he’d ever walk again. John had eleven surgeries to repair his badly damaged leg. He walks with a brace and still uses a cane much of the time. But he has gained tremendous movement and strength in the past month.
His countless hours of physical therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital have paid off and he’ll continue working with therapists in California. Since he put on his shoe, by himself, for the first time a month ago, he says much of the anger he felt for the bombing suspects has been replaced with a focus on getting well. “I’m looking forward,” he says with resolve.
Both Karen and John describe the love and support of people in Boston, New England and beyond as a critical part of his recovery. Their daughter, son-in-law and three of their eight grandchildren live outside Boston. John’s been able to play catch with them and he took them to a Red Sox game last month where which he delivered the ceremonial game ball to the mound.
The Odoms are eager to return to California. But leaving Boston is bittersweet. Many of their new friends are other bombing survivors. “They’ve become family. They will be our family always,” Karen explained. “We’re all rooting for each other every day. They are amazing people.”
The Odoms also hope that John’s recovery will inspire people who are struggling. Karen describes John as “living proof” there is light at the end of the tunnel. And as they walked out of Spaulding Rehab for lunch, just days before their departure, there was no hiding their joy. Holding hands, they say they take far less for granted now. They appreciate people more. And they look forward to getting back to a normal life.
They also have an anniversary to celebrate. Sunday is their 46th wedding anniversary.