Last year, a 90-year-old American woman was given a cancer diagnosis, and instead of undergoing grueling treatment, she decided to hit the road, and thus she began the adventure of a lifetime.
Her Facebook page “Driving Miss Norma” chronicled her trip across the U.S. and she was followed by more than 400,000 people. Norma Jean Bauerschmidt has now completed her earth journey, and last September aged 91, she passed on.
She became an internet sensation and inspired millions around the planet when she opted to live her life to the full instead of undergoing the usual cancer treatment.
“We found ourselves sitting in an OB/GYN office talking about treatment options,” her daughter-in-law Ramie wrote on the Facebook page. “You know the drill: surgery, then radiation and chemo in some order. When the doctor was finished he asked her how she would like to proceed.”
“A tiny woman at 101 pounds and under five-feet tall, an exhausted Norma looked the young doctor dead in the eye and with the strongest voice she could muster, said, ‘I’m 90-years-old, I’m hitting the road.'”
So in August 2015, she set off from Michigan with her son Tim and Ramie and their poodle Ringo, in a 36 foot RV. Their adventure took them through the West, South, Northeast, and finally back to the Midwest.
Norma’s journey ended in the town of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington; this was where she saw killer whales for the first time.
The journey captured the hearts of many, who were inspired by her attitude to living, and also the way she approached her last days.
“We have driven the RV nearly 13,000 miles and slept in over 75 different locations in 32 states,” one post read after they were twelve months on the road.
“Miss Norma has experienced more ‘firsts’ than we can count. Big things, like riding in a hot air balloon or on a horse, to little things like getting a pedicure or having her first taste of key lime pie, oysters and fried green tomatoes. She has had her hair done by ten different stylists and has crossed the time zones 9 times (I think).”
Her Facebook page continued to keep her fans in the loop, even as her health started to decline. In August 2016, penned on her Facebook page was “grand adventure with Miss Norma may be coming to a close.”
Tim and Ramie were in the RV with Norma when she died. They posted a quote from the 13th-century poet Rumi, “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go,” and noted, “Today we are letting go.”
That post had surpassed 2.3 million page views by the next day; Tim said it was “mind-boggling.”
“Over these past 12 months, all of us have learned so much about living, caring, loving, and embracing the present moment. No matter where we are, when asked where her favorite spot has been on this trip, Norma now says, ‘Right here!’ We have also learned so much about the human spirit and the beauty of people from all over the world.”
“When we asked Norma earlier how she wanted people to pay their respects, she said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if others could just spread joy in the world,’” this was written on the public invitation to her memorial service.
Norma lived her life to the full until the last breath, she didn’t just exist. What an inspiration!
Photos Credit to: Facebook| Driving Miss Norma.