Reaching the ripe old age of 90, Miss Norma Bauerschmidt knows a lot about debilitating disease. Unfortunately after the passing of her husband, she got the news no one wants to hear. She was diagnosed with a cancerous mass on her uterus.
Most of us know the drill having lived through one ourselves or having seen it play out with others. It proceeds from surgery to radiation to chemo, and often a repeat of those three steps, when things worsen or don't get any better.
A diminutive woman at 101 pounds and under five-feet tall, an exhausted Norma looked her young doctor straight in the eye and with the strongest voice she could muster, said, “I’m 90-years-old, I’m hitting the road.”
When discussed with by her doctor, he welcomed her decision.
“As doctors,” he said, “we see what cancer treatment looks like every day: ICU, nursing homes, awful side effects. Honestly, there is no guarantee she will survive the initial surgery to remove the mass. You are doing exactly what I would want to do in this situation. Have a fantastic trip!”
On the road again . . .
As Willie Nelson sings those iconic lyrics "On the road again, 'Goin' places that I've never been, Seein' things that I may never see again,' it highlights Miss Norma's desire as to how to live out the remaining years in her life. Instead of being sequestered in hospitals for undetermined amounts of time, she turned to her wanderlust to see what she hadn't seen in the world.
It was at this juncture, she decided to hit the road with her Poodle, Ringo, her son Tim and her daughter-in-law, Rami in their RV. "I’m having the time of my life! I’m done with doctors,” she said.
“We have no idea where or when it will end. We are living in the present moment,” Ramie said. Let the good times rolls, Norma and Ringo too!
Driving Miss Norma
Rami said she became use to the road, the quiet woman who always had remained in the background was became a "spunky" nonagenarian. Her decision to begin her 14-month adventure was a year of growth that changed a lot for Miss Norma.
In fact, the trip was not only transforming Norma. It also provided her son, Tim, with the chance to get to know her as a person for the first time, “a wonderful person…” he says with a kind of joyful surprise.
The family traveled to New England, across the Midwest, and headed West. Sometimes using a cane, sometimes in a wheelchair, Norma rode on boats, floated in hot-air balloons, rode in parades and saw wonders she had always dreamed of seeing: Yosemite, the Tetons, Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon.
Were there any last sentiments that Norma offered in her last days? Simply, says her daughter-in-law, to “Pass it on. Pass on joy and experience all you can.” And she adds, “Try a beer in her honor… or just a root beer float will do!”
For more on Miss Norma and Ringo, check out her Facebook Page. It chronicles the last fifteen months of her life, and the continued effect her choices are making around the world. She died peacefully with no regrets on September 30, 2016. Her courage is a clarion call to others who might want to follow suit with Miss Norma's brave decisions. And while Ringo might be missing her these days, she surely gave him a Thelma-and-Louise-Adventure of his lifetime, as well. Long live Ringo!
Primary Source: Miss Norma's Facebook Page