A 91-Year-Old Woman Died After an Incredible, Year-Long Road Trip Adventure
At 90 years old, Norma Jean Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Her husband had just died two days before when Norma was faced with a heavy decision: Would she undergo a risky surgery and fight her cancer tooth and nail, or let life take its course? She decided to forgo treatment and live her life to the fullest in the time she had left, with a cross-country trip that captured hearts around the world, until her death a year later at 91.
When her doctor gave her the diagnosis, she told him, "I'm 90 years old. I'm not interested in going through that. I'm hitting the road."Peoplereports the doctor was surprised, but then said, "That's exactly what I'd do, too." According to CBS News, once her husband Leo died, she would have had to live in a nursing home or join her retired son, Tim, and his wife, Ramie, who live nomadically in an RV. She chose adventure, and Tim and Ramie posted updates on a Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma.
The nonagenarian saw Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore, and the Grand Canyon, and even had her first pedicure ever on a trip to Georgia. The World War II Navy veteran was a featured guest aboard an aircraft carrier, wearing a hard hat and safety goggles. And throughout, Norma's spirits were high and her health visibly improved for a time.
But in early September, Norma was about to go whale watching in Washington state when her health started to fail, and her family brought in hospice care while she lived out the rest of her days in the motorhome on the picturesque San Juan Islands. As her health was fading, her Facebook page kept updating with inspirational quotes and scenes from her final moments in hospice care. Her loved ones announced her death on September 30, noting, "Today we are letting go."
In a little over a year, Norma rode 13,000 miles, visited 32 states, and slept in 75 different locations. Her family said they were spreading her story to help spark end-of-life conversations before it's too late. "What struck us is how difficult it is to have that conversation with people that you love about how they want the last months of their life to be," Ramie told Fox News. "Our greatest hope with our story... is that it can maybe help families start that conversation."
According to the,Norma will be cremated and buried beside her husband in Michigan. In lieu of flowers or donations, Ramie had this suggestion for people who want to pay tribute to her: "Infuse some joy in the world. Pay it forward in [your] own community. Pay it forward in [your] own family. Take your grandmother out for lunch.
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