Randy Travis is still re-learning skills after suffering a massive stroke in 2013 -- but he’s come a long way.

The country icon sustained serious damage to “the whole third midsection of [his] left brain ... which is speaking, writing and reading,” his wife Mary tells People, and to this day, he still has difficulty forming speech. However, she adds, Travis has made huge strides in his recovery since he first came home after his four-month-long hospital stay.

“Each day there’s something new that he says or does,” she points out.

“He didn’t know what the TV remote was or what the telephone was,” Mary recalls of the early days after his stroke. “It takes you back to raising a child, and you start all over again.” Still, she adds, getting to go home after such an extended time period in the hospital felt liberating, explaining that it “was like somebody left the gate open, and boy, we were going to go live life.”

As Travis works to regain his powers of speech, the couple has developed different ways of communicating, using what Mary calls “our seventh sense” in the absence of words. “Our communication is between hearts now, not lips,” she goes on to say. Just because the couple doesn’t use much English when they speak to each other, she points out, doesn’t mean that Travis has nothing to say.

“I tell him all the time, ‘You speak volumes in your silence,’” Mary continues. “In his silence, he can make me feel like a princess. I feel so blessed to get to walk beside him through this.”

The couple also shares with People that they attend weekly Bible study class, and take walks around their property to help Travis strengthen. Like his wife, the country icon takes a positive approach to his recovery. “I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as a victim,” Mary adds.

Travis will be detailing his acclaimed musical career and life story in a new book, Forever and Ever Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life. The project is set for release on May 14.

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