Giffords making more progress, singing ‘American Pie’

/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Gabrielle Giffords has been singing "American Pie," eating chicken soup and "is making the kind of progress that all of us would anticipate" after being shot in the head in January, according to a rabbi who has been visiting the congresswoman regularly.

Rabbi David Lyon, of Congregation Beth Israel in southwest Houston, has been visiting Giffords about three times a week as she recovers in the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital, Houston TV station KHOU, a CBS affiliate, reported.

He told the station she had recently sung "American Pie" with her longtime friend Rabbi Stephanie Aaron.

Lyon added that Giffords had a healthy appetite.

"Well, she had a little chicken soup with matzo balls. I think that's fair to report, and as we all know it is Jewish penicillin," he told KHOU.

"Gabby is making the kind of progress that all of us would anticipate, whether it’s words or emotions," he added.

He also said Giffords sometimes wore an orange wristband that he gave to her with a phrase in Hebrew, meaning "this too shall pass."

"And it means not only will all of this pass, but there are joyful moments that pass into less joyful moments, but even those less joyful moments will pass into more joyful times in the future," he told KHOU.

'Sweet, spirited person'
"Gabby likes to reach out and hold my hand and she listens carefully and smiles easily. Prayer for her is meaningful," he added.

Lyon said Gabby was "a sweet, spirited person who doesn't give up and truly wants to make a difference. Currently, it's to make a difference in her own life, but ultimately to continue making a difference in the lives of others in which she was elected to serve."

He added Giffords was kept busy by her program of rehabilitation and added that he hoped she would be able to give her own updates on her condition.

A look at the Arizona lawmaker's rise to prominence — from high school to Capitol Hill.

Giffords amazed doctors with the speed of her recovery in the days following the shooting on Jan. 8 at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., and she appears to have been making steady progress since.

On Feb. 7, Giffords asked for toast with her breakfast when hospital workers brought her a meal.

Giffords' staff members said on Feb. 9 that these had not been her first words but confirmed the request and said she had been talking "more and more" since speaking for the first time several days previously.

On Feb. 21, she wished her husband Mark Kelly and his twin brother Scott — both astronauts — a happy birthday . Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the tweet and Facebook posting were written by a member of her staff.

She also thanked TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital for a cake that featured the likeness of her husband.

Park named for youngest victimSix people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, were killed in the Tucson attack; Giffords was among 13 people injured.

Federal judge Larry Burns has said the trial for the man charged with shootings, Jared Loughner, 22, should begin no later than Sept. 20.

The U.S. attorney's office in Arizona has said they will issue a final indictment against him by March 9.

Loughner is charged with trying to assassinate Giffords and attempting to kill two of her aides.

A new indictment is expected to also charge him with the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman. Loughner has pleaded not guilty. State charges are also likely.

On Monday, a park in Tucson was named in the honor of Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old victim.

The Canada del Oro Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park was officially dedicated Monday. The Arizona Daily Star says about 250 people attended the ceremony.

Pima County officials said they would put up a plaque in the park to commemorate Christina's life.

She'll also have a Little League baseball field in Tucson named in her honor next month. Christina's family is expected to throw out the first pitch when the Canyon Del Oro Little League season begins April 1.