Let the good times rolls, Norma!

I posted this some time ago…. however because of recent developments, I’m putting it back at the top with an addition at the bottom

There may still be some of you out there that aren’t on Facebook.  But even if you are, you might possibly have missed an amazing page called ‘Driving Miss Norma’.  If you want to know how it started, here is a story from the Huffington Post.  At this time, the story has hit every major network station.  The thing about this story… I can say I’m not sure I know anyone anymore, that hasn’t been hit in some way by Cancer, family or friends.  In my family & friends I have lost six, and four currently fighting the beast.  It is the tormentor of all who doesn’t discriminate in any way – all good people are fodder for its savagery.

Everyone must fight this fight within the parameters of what they believe.  I personally don’t believe in the standard Western medicine protocols for the disease.  So maybe this is why this story touched me so deeply.  Dear Miss Norma decided to just ‘live’… instead of spending the rest of her life in the suffering of classic treatment.  This is where it started… and following this article, is where the story is now…..

 

90-Year-Old With Cancer Says No To Chemo And Yes To Travel And Camper

 

ElyseWanshel, Associate Editor, The Huffington Post

 

 At 90, one woman doesn’t care to see the inside of any more hospitals. She would much rather see the world.

When a cancerous mass was detected on Norma’s uterus the day after her husband of 67 years, Leo, was admitted to hospice, she decided to trek on with her life the best way she knew how — to fully live it.

 

Norma at the Grand Canyon with Ringo.

 

 

 

She decided to snub assisted living and treatment, in favor of going on a road trip with her son, Tim, daughter-in-law, Ramie and their 8-year-old poodle, Ringo, in a 36-foot motor home.

“I’m having the time of my life!” Norma told The Huffington Post. “I’m done with doctors.”

Norma and Tim at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

 


Two days after her husband died, Norma and her family were sitting in an OB-GYN office talking about her treatment options that involved surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

When Norma’s doctor asked the spunky senior how she’d like to proceed, the 5-foot-tall, 101-pound woman told him: “I’m hitting the road!”


Norma and Tim goofing around.

 

 

 

Tim and Ramie are nomadic souls who had been living in an Airstream with Ringo for years. Instead of sitting in a nursing home, Norma intended to join them.

Her doctor’s response was equally surprising:

“Right on!” he is quoted as saying on Norma’s Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma.

 

 

 

 


Norma and Tim at Mt. Rushmore.

 

“As doctors, we see what cancer treatment looks like every day,” he said. “ICU, nursing homes, awful side effects and 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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 Norma and Tim at the Kennedy Space Center. 


 

 

 


Norma’s mind is still sharp, she’s not in any pain and she always dreamed of traveling.

In fact, she and Leo always wanted to ride a hot air balloon together.

 

“Norma and Leo had been clipping ads for hot air balloon rides for many years,” Ramie told HuffPost. “After Leo died we found the tiny ads tucked in here and there around the house

Norma posing in front of Epcot at Disney World.


Norma hitting the road.

In August of 2015, after Tim and Ramie upgraded their Airstream to a larger RV, Norma, the couple and the poodle departed from Mackinaw City, Michigan, and hit the road. They headed west to experience the beauty of the Grand Canyon before it got cold. They also made a stop in Yellowstone National Park, which Norma especially loved.

 

 

 

 

“The water and mud bubbling out of the earth?” she said. “I had never seen anything like that before.”

In autumn they headed south and spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans.



Norma checking out Morning Glory Pool at Yellowstone National Park.

 

 

 

 

 


“Believe it or not, the only snow we have experienced was in Arizona in October,” Ramie said.

 

 

Norma checking out Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

 

 

 

 


Since August they have traveled a little over 6,000 miles and have no intentions of stopping anytime soon.

“We have no idea where or when it will end,” Ramie said. “We are living in the present moment.” 

 Norma enjoying a cold brew.

 

 

 

 


For the past few months, they have been traveling around Florida to keep warm during the winter months, hitting up sites like Disney, St. Augustine, Kennedy Space Center and an extra special stop in Orlando — where Norma finally got to experience a hot air balloon ride.

 

 

 

Norma visits the Corn Palace in South Dakota.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Firing up the balloon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norma gets a lift inside the balloon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The moment of a lifetime.

 


 

No regrets.

“That was our Christmas present to her,” Ramie said. “It was a huge highlight for all of us. It was simply unforgettable!”

Next up they plan to head to coastal Georgia. 

 

 

 

 

 

“Miss Norma would love to see the azaleas in bloom up in Charleston, South Carolina, later this spring,” Ramie said.

As for Norma and her decision to take this trip rather than get medical treatment, she has no regrets.

Norma enjoying a Florida beach.

 


“People shouldn’t be afraid to travel,” she said. “No matter your age.” 

To keep up with Norma’s travels, follow her Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma.

 

 

 

Norma relaxing inside the RV. 


 

Here are her sons beginning words:

 

Welcome to our journey! This post is an overview of Miss Norma's story. We are still on the road.

 

For many years Norma and Leo would listen to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" at lunch time in their humble home in northern Michigan. Now, this is the rest of her story . . .

During the same two-week period her husband, Leo, was dying, Norma was traveling through her own medical maze.

After having some blood detected in her urine during a routine exam she was sent for an ultrasound, and then another. The day after Leo was admitted to Hospice we learned that she had a large, likely cancerous mass on her uterus.

Two days after Leo died we found ourselves sitting in an OB/GYN office talking about treatment options.

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.”

The doctor and the confused first-day medical student who was shadowing him looked at Tim (her son) and me (her daughter-in-law, Ramie) for some clarification.

We had had time to talk to Norma beforehand about the likelihood that there would be some bad news coming from the doctor. She made it VERY clear to us that she had no interest in any treatment. We “got it” and were in complete support of her decision.

But what next? We couldn’t imagine leaving her in a nursing home, especially after walking down the long halls of the local Tender Care to visit Leo in the last room on the right, reserved by Hospice for the dying. No way.

There is also no way she could live at home alone without Leo. They were truly a well-oiled team of 67 years.

Having recently read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (please put this on your reading list) our best idea was to take her on the road with us. Norma currently is not in pain, her mind is sharp, she loves to travel, and she is remarkably easy to be around.

We explained to the well-meaning doctor and his student that we live in an RV and that we would be taking her wherever she wanted to go. He didn’t hesitate to say, “RIGHT ON!” We asked if he thought us irresponsible for this approach. His reply was telling.

“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!”

Meanwhile, the medical student stood discreetly by the exam room door taking it all in. Until that point she had spent her first day working with pregnant women (the waiting room was filled with them) all thinking about the beginning of life, not the end.

The look on her face during our conversation indicated she had just received the education of a lifetime.

rachelwhiteart20

 

 

I remember reading one post from a woman that said she was so sad that Miss Norma was going to ‘refuse treatment and die’.  I hope she has been following this story for the past year so she can see that Miss Norma didn’t refuse treatment to die… she refused it to live.

So where has this adventure led?  What is happening now?

I have been following this lovely lady for most of the year, watching her incredible life unfold and the astonishing adventures she has been having.  And other than Ringo (their poodle) needing surgery, it has been a complete joy to watch.  Here is a post of their ‘one year’ page on Facebook:

 

Today is a big day for the Driving Miss Norma team.

 

It was one year ago that we left northeast Michigan on our epic journey, the breadth and depth of which we could never have imagined.

We have driven the RV nearly 13,000 miles and slept in over 75 different locations in 32 states. We helped celebrate our National Park Service’s 100th anniversary by visiting a couple dozen national parks, monuments and recreation areas from coast to coast and north to south.

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.

The wonderful people that we have met, both in person and on the Internet, is the singular thing that has made this journey so very special for us. Our families, friends, and the many thousands of former strangers have lifted us up and kept our spirits high.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness and love that has been directed our way. It feels like a giant nest has been built across the country. Anywhere we land is home. We have broken bread at strangers' kitchen tables, been hosted by the US Navy, the Atlanta Hawks, the Georgia Aquarium and the whole darn towns of Winthrop, Massachusetts, Marietta, Georgia and what felt like the entire state of South Carolina. We can’t possibly accept all of the invitations we have received, nor list all we have enjoyed. Please know, each one has touched our hearts.

We often have a difficult time explaining to Miss Norma what her journey has meant to so many others. Heck, we can’t wrap our own heads around it ourselves. What we do understand is the global language of love and caring for fellow human beings. Thank you all for illustrating that over and over again.

Our hearts are full and we so hope everyone will continue to follow our adventures.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 7.35.20 PM

 

So for those of you on Facebook, it might do your heart some good to follow this page.  Sometimes when I am having a particularly hard time, I read about Miss Norma.

 

 

 










The article out of the May 1st, 2017 Prescott Courier:

This is a tale of life, love and loss.

Every summer, Prescott residents Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle would visit Tim’s parents in northern Michigan.

During one fateful visit in July, 2015, they discovered that Tim’s father was very ill. Ten days later, his father died. Two days after that, his mother, Norma, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

At 90 years old, Norma did not wish to undergo treatment or surgery.

She was, therefore, faced with two clear options: spend her remaining days in a nursing home or live with Tim and Ramie — who were living in a travel trailer at the time. Norma chose the latter.

Little did she know her decision would result in the best year of her life.

Tim and Ramie, a retired couple who had been traveling the country together for many years, quickly traded out their trailer for a full size RV and began planning a road trip with Norma in mind.

“The only thing we could figure out that she wanted to see was Mount Rushmore,” Tim said.

“She didn’t have a bucket list,” Ramie said.

Even before they started the trip, however, it didn’t look like Norma was going to make it very far.

“We thought she was going to die right as we got her out into the driveway,” Tim said. “She was so sick, so depressed, so drugged up.”

To see if they could do something about this, they first drove to Colorado, where they acquired an alternative medicine to assist with Norma’s arthritis and pain from the cancer.

“Alternative medicine was our savoir,” Tim said. “It changed everything about our trip.”

“She wasn’t dizzy anymore; she didn’t fall asleep in the middle of the day; she was totally engaged,” Ramie said.

From that point forward, things gradually took on a wild life of its own.

Within about 14 months, they drove 13,000 miles, stopped in 32 states and visited 15 national parks.

Some of their stops included the Grand Canyon, an Indian Pueblo in Albuquerque, a thanksgiving feast in New Orleans and a three month RV cruise through Florida.

All the while, Norma experienced a number of firsts, such as riding in a hot air balloon, seeing dolphins and touching a moonrock.

“She told us ‘I’ve always wanted to go to the moon,’ so we took her to the space center,” Tim said.

About half-way through the trip, Ramie started a Facebook page just to keep her mom and friends up to date on their travels.

They started telling strangers they met on the road about the page and it slowly grew. When they hit about 500 friends on the page, they decided to share their story with Good News Network. The story got 50,000 hits and the attention of larger news organizations.

Norma was suddenly a star and her story was eliciting a tremendous amount of positive feedback from all over the world.

“Thousands and thousands of people started writing in,” Tim said.

They began receiving invitations from regular folks and celebrities to honor Norma in some way.

“We were getting invitations from everywhere,” Tim said. “We could throw a dart and wherever it lands somebody would have already offered us an invitation.”

They accepted quite a few of those invitations, but, alas, they could only do so much.

As the trip began to wind down, they were approached by HarperOne to do a book deal about their journey. That same day, they were also offered a movie deal by Fox Searchlight Pictures, which has produced movies like Juno, Little Miss Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire.

They accepted the book deal and wrote it themselves with the title Driving Miss Norma.

As they were writing, Norma’s health began to quickly deteriorate.

Even in her final weeks, Tim couldn’t face the fact that the adventure and his mother’s life were coming to an end.

“It was tough,” Tim said. “I was mourning the end of it. I didn’t want it stop.” He was determined to get her to Mexico — their final planned destination — but they never made it. Norma ended up passing away at 91 years old in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington.

The whole story is recounted in Driving Miss Norma. The book is set to release on Tuesday, May 2. Considering the Quad-cities as the closest thing they have to a home, Tim and Ramie will be hosting a book tour launch party at Peregrine Book Company in Prescott that same day at 5:30 p.m. 

rachelwhiteart22


I am SO grateful that I got to be part of this book tour - that I got to meet Tim and hug his lovely wife… that I got to hear the story FROM them…. and of course, meet Ringo in person.  The book is awesome…. get it.  

Peregrine Book Store - May 2, 2017

book signing




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