An American woman who decided to take a road trip across the
United States instead of undergoing cancer treatment has died at
the age of 91.
Norma Jean Bauerschmidt’s travels have been followed by more than
400,000 people on the Facebook page “Driving Miss Norma”, which posted
pictures and accounts of her journey.
Ms Bauerschmidt’s daughter-in-law Ramie, who set up the Facebook
page, wrote that Ms Bauerschmidt had decided to take the trip
last year after being diagnosed with uterine cancer and told by
her doctor that surgery, radiation and chemotherapy were unlikely
to treat the illness
“We found ourselves sitting in an OB/GYN office talking about
treatment options,” a post read. “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.'”
Ms Bauerschmidt set off from Michigan with her son Tim,
daughter-in-law and their dog Ringo on 24 August 2015.
A post marking a year on the
road said: “We have driven the RV nearly 13,000 miles
and slept in over 75 different locations in 32 states.
“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.)
“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.”
Ms Bauerschmidt began hospice care in the town of Friday Harbour,
San Juan Island, Washington – her final stop – in August when her
health began to deteriorate.
The San Juan County Coroner Randall Gaylord confirmed Ms
Bauerschmidt died on Friday morning.
On Friday evening Ms Bauerschmidt’s son Tim and daughter-in-law
Ramie posted a quote from the
13th-century poet Rumi: “‘Life is a balance between holding on
and letting go’ – ‘Today we are letting go” it said.
A memorial service for Ms Bauerschmidt will take place in Friday
Harbour on Friday.
A public invitation to the
service says: “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’.”
The invite asks people to send flowers to people they love rather
than to the service, to donate money to a charity of their choice
and to “take your grandmother out for lunch”.