Norma Jean Bauerschmidt lost her husband at age ninety. Two days later, her doctor gave her the demoralizing news that she had terminal uterine cancer. She had the option to undergo conventional cancer treatment and to await the end of her life in a drab assisted living facility in pain and without hope. Or, alternatively, to forgo treatment altogether and enjoy life to the fullest traveling the country having fun.
Norma Bauerschmidt did not hesitate. She chose to travel and live a colorful life full of fun and excitement. So, she moved into a recreational vehicle with her son Tim and his wife Ramie. After a few minor adjustment to accommodate her needs, off they went on a journey through the West, the South, the East, and back to the Midwest. Along the way, Norma Jean experienced her first pedicure but, more importantly, the great wonders of the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Old Faithful. She rode a zip line, officiated as the guest of honor at an NBA game, and rode in a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Norma Jean, a Navy veteran of World War II, visited the aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford. It was one of the most memorable highlights of this unique and joyful end of life travel. Wearing a hard hat and safety goggles, she loved every minute of it.
Meanwhile, Ramie chronicled Norma Jean’s fun-filled exploits with her family and her companion, a big white poodle, on a dedicated Facebook page. “Driving Miss Norma” attracted visitors and enthusiastic followers beyond belief. The illustrated chronicles soon racked up 2,000 visitors per week. All supported and encouraged Norma Jean praising her courage and determination to make the best of her life.
After 13,000 miles, visits to 32 states, and overnight stays in almost 100 places, Norma Jean, and her family arrived in the San Juan Islands for a whale watching excursion. It was not meant to be. Norma’s health worsened. She spent the rest of her days in bed in the RV.
After a year of fun and exhilarating joy, Norma Jean waved goodbye to the world and her loving family. Her epic journey touched millions starting worldwide conversations, giving encouragement to the hopeless. Her epic journey will stand as her lasting legacy.