With Lori's help, Tom was able to ditch Madison for a private room at the finest Assisted-Living facility in Nashville. Belmont Village is right on the road to Tom's parents' place, too, making it a lot easier for them to visit.
Tom's version of jumping for joy. This was his first private room in twenty years, with his own bathroom, a comfortable bed and a kitchenette. He moved in right before his 46th birthday--there's the birthday balloon in the corner.
The kitchenette, with the bath opposite. The boombox on the counter was a gift from company-mate George Wheeler. The pictures on the wall are the three planes Tom flew in the Navy.
Relaxing in front of his new TV/VCR, a gift from 30th Company classmate Steve Rohrssen. Lori decorated the room, of course--you didn't think Tom picked out that window treatment by himself, did you?
For years Tom resisted electric wheelchairs, but after trying on in San Diego (more on that later), he caved. Lori ran the paperwork through Social Security and after a loonnng battle, delivered it to Tom. Here they are celebrating.
Here's Tom out for lunch with Lori, his lawyer (OK, and friend, too) Steph, and Frank. You can't tell, but Tom's sitting in his manual wheelchair here. The electric wheelchair couldn't make it outside Belmont because there was no way to transport it. All his friends were getting pretty sick of pushing Tom around. We'll get back to that later, too.
With the Jazzy electric wheelchair, his manual wheelchair (which, by the way, was also the result of Lori's work), his armchair, his desk, and his bed, there wasn't much space left for Tom in his new room. Consideration was given to just stashing Tom out in the hall, but Lori went ahead and got him a bigger room. Here it is.
A slightly different view of the room. Note the new desk. Note the new bookcase. Note the floor space!
Tom in the dining room downstairs. The food's good, the coffee's good, Tom's good.
As a veteran, Tom is entitled to quite a bit from the Veterans Adminstration--including a specially equipped van. Government regulations, however, require many, many hoops to be jumped through. Since Tom's Jazzy wheelchair didn't come with a Jump mode, Lori did the jumping for him. Did she ever. Months of paperwork getting the approval, and then months of negotiations and double-checking with the van modification company. Can you tell she's just a little proud of this new van? Here she is making everything perfect for the presentation ceremony.
Tom promptly dubbed the van "The Starship Enterprise", which of course, made his electric wheelchair The Shuttlecraft. You could quibble that ships are christened with champagne bottles, but there was no way Lori was going to let Tom smash a bottle on this baby. Ribbon-cutting seemed safer.
Tom in his new van for the first time. Can you tell he's happy? Look at his father, Ken, behind him. Can you tell he's happy, too? He's the guy who's been chauffeuring Tom around for a couple of decades, helping him in and out of a car. Which Smith is happier?
Lori and Tom in the van, with Steph looking on.
The new van is a Toyota Siena, totally tricked out with a V-6, upgraded stereo, you-name-it. The special modifications include a totally automatic side door and ramp, with adjustable tie-downs to hold a wheelchair in place.