It's the best birthday present Aiden Lints could have dreamed of - finally coming home to Te Puke.
The now 3-year-old and his family have returned for the last time from Auckland, where Aiden was treated for injuries suffered in a major car crash.
From the deck of their Te Puke home yesterday, Monique and Grenville Lints shared their joy at being able to look to the future after a tumultuous six months.
Rushed to Starship children's hospital following the March 9 crash, there were fears Aiden would never walk again.
His spine was injured and his right leg broken in the crash that also badly injured Mrs Lints.
Eight-month-old Danyon and Mr Lints were unhurt.
The family's vehicle collided with a van as they returned from a picnic at Whakatane.
Aiden has been in and out of hospital and recovery centres in Auckland, until now.
"Auckland was on TV the other day and he said, 'No, Mum, we are staying home'," Mrs Lints said.
Aiden came home for the last time on September 15. The next day was his birthday.
"We are just so thankful we were all here for it. It was a very special birthday," Mrs Lints said.
There was another reason for the family to celebrate.
"I'm 12 weeks' pregnant today," Mrs Lints said.
She refers to the couple's unborn child as their "miracle baby".
The long scar running down her chest is a reminder that Aiden was not the only one hurt in the crash.
Although Aiden is doing things doctors said he would never be able to, Mr Lints said they were realistic about his future.
"We've been told he's never going to be normal, never going to be 100 per cent. He's had a spinal injury. He's severed nerves, fortunately not completely."
With help, Aiden can walk short distances.
He wears light-weight splints and has a walking frame to help his mobility. For long distances, he uses a wheelchair.
"For me, I don't know. Thinking about the future is the hardest," Mrs Lints said. "He's never going to do cross-country or those sorts of things you kind of take for granted when you have children.
"He's never going to have the memory of being able to walk properly. His brother will never remember Aiden walking properly."
The crash has not just affected the family.
Strangers approach Mrs Lints in the streets to ask how her boy is recovering. The questions are so regular, she has set up a Facebook page to help update people on Aiden's recovery, it's called Action for Aiden.
The family is now in the process of renovating their home into a wheelchair-friendly environment.
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