As Paula Gault was being transferred to a rehabilitation facility from her hospital room late last week, her two closest friends were crossing the country to be by her side.
Gault, former superintendent of the Forsyth County school system, suffered a stroke nearly two weeks ago while on a flight with her husband to San Francisco, her favorite city to visit.
"Her spirits are good and every day her mobility is getting better," said Judi Jenkins, one of the friends. "But you know Paula, she's a fighter. So she's ready to go home, sit in her back yard and water flowers."
Jenkins, business and community relations facilitator with the school system, has been friends with Gault "forever."
"Paula and I grew up together," she said. "Our fathers were in the poultry business together. We've known each other all our lives."
Mary Harwell, associate superintendent for the district, traveled with Jenkins on Thursday night to California. Harwell and Gault have known each other for about 25 years.
The duo brought along a few surprises and some requests for Gault.
"We had to go by her house and pick up all the Forsyth County News since she's been gone for 10 days because she wanted to read them," Jenkins said.
"And of course we've got a whole big huge envelope of cards that people from the central office that they've made.
We have a lot of letters from a lot of people that truly love her and wish her the best."
Both Jenkins and Harwell received a phone call from Gault's daughter, Kristin Martin, shortly after the stroke.
"We didn't sleep for two nights, neither of us did," Jenkins said. "But every day has been positive news."
"Nobody's thinking about tomorrow. We're just taking it a day at a time and a step at a time."
She said Gault's husband, Robert Hughes, has been "right there the whole time, he's been a faithful trooper."
Martin left San Francisco on Monday, but not before her sister, Kelly Story, flew to the West Coast to be with their mother.
Jenkins said she and Harwell are taking over the next shift, rehab, until Tuesday.
Gault is expected to spend between three to six hours a day in rehab, but will set an exit date goal her first week.
The stroke, which affected the right side of her brain, has impacted Gault's ability to move the left side of her body. She has made improvements, Jenkins said, but still has a battle ahead.
"We will be with her as much as we can be," Jenkins said. "We're going to try to do her nails and do her hair and let her open all those cards. But we're going to let her read them to us. We're going to make her do all the work."
Current Superintendent Buster Evans, who succeeded Gault in January, said he has been receiving frequent reports.
Evans said having Jenkins and Harwell there to hand-deliver cards has a "very special touch to it."
"Throughout the district and the community, people I run into, they ask me about Paula, and fortunately we've been able to get updates," he said.
"Everyone, especially myself, just continue to wish the very, very best for her to have a great recovery."
Evans, who took over for Gault in January, had spent several months touring the county and system with his predecessor. The two developed a connection during their time together, Evans said.
"Like everybody, I was devastated," he said. "But we hope she has a good recovery so that she can get to the point where she can have the enjoyment of being able to retire.
"There's a lot of love and affection for Paula that continues to exist in the school system and we continue to wish and hope for her the absolute very best."