What doctors once thought would take up to a year before he could return to the community he calls home, Tom Miller has astounded everyone by recuperating enough to return in just 114 days.
Maureen Miller attributes her father's speedy recovery to his positive attitude, sense of humor and the care and support of all the medical personnel that have attended to her father's injuries these past weeks.
"Seeing everyone will definitely lift his spirits," she said. "As if they could get any higher."
This time of recuperation has given Miller a tremendous gift, family togetherness.
"Dad was able to spend his 68th Christmas on the family farm just outside of Riley, Ohio, with his 93-year-old father," Maureen said. "He's just bubbling over with good cheer. I think he'll really enjoy seeing everyone again."
This will be Miller's first trip to Clay County since the Sept. 8 explosion that trapped him in the crawlspace area of his home, causing the severe burns to his upper torso, face and hands.
Because of the severity of the injuries, Miller's age, 68, and an ongoing battle with an infection, doctors said a full recovery was possible, but it was going to be a long road.
"Maybe after the first of the year, or at least sometime in the spring, I can get over there and visit," he told The Brazil Times in November. "I just need to be able to travel and walk around first, but I'm coming."
To do that, Miller had to tackle rehabilitative therapy, especially for his hands.
"I can see where it's beginning to work," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening. "They want you to be able to feed yourself right off the bat, and that's very important don't you know. But the doctors were right about the year, it will probably take that long before I get my hands to working again the way they should."
It's also important to be able to get around on your own with as little help as possible, Miller explained.
"I told the therapist today that I'm walking all by myself now, only use the walker to steady myself when I'm alone," he said. "I walked out of therapy and all the way to the car today."
Feeling better, ready and excited for travel, the first destination he wanted to go was back home.
"I want to thank everyone for all the letters and cards and good wishes and prayers sent my way. Sure will be nice to see as many people as I can while I'm there because it could be spring before I can return again," he said. "It'll be my first time back since the explosion and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone."
With weather permitting, on Saturday, Miller should arrive at the Dick Johnson Volunteer Fire Department Community House shortly before noon.
Everyone is invited to visit with Miller and some of his family members until 3 p.m.
"It's going to be a full day, and we're looking forward to it," he said, laughing about Saturday being a holiday. "That is, if there's anybody that shows up."