Driving Miss Norma: 91-Year-Old Who Hit The Road After Cancer Diagnosis Dies Instead of seeking treatment for cancer, Norma Bauerschmidt embarked on a cross-country trip in an RV with her son and daughter-in-law. The trip lasted more than a year. She died last week.
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Driving Miss Norma: 91-Year-Old Who Hit The Road After Cancer Diagnosis Dies

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Driving Miss Norma: 91-Year-Old Who Hit The Road After Cancer Diagnosis Dies

Driving Miss Norma: 91-Year-Old Who Hit The Road After Cancer Diagnosis Dies

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

This next story is about learning to live in the moment. Tim Bauerschmidt left home when he was 19. He would call or visit his parents in Michigan occasionally. Decades went by.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

After his father died last year, he knew his mother couldn't live by herself. She was 90. And he realized...

TIM BAUERSCHMIDT: I really didn't know my mom. I had some stilted conversations. She'd be on the other end of the phone when I talked to my dad. I'd have to say, Mom, are you there? Are you are on the line? Oh, yeah, I'm here.

MCEVERS: Tim says it was like his mom, Norma Bauerschmidt, was always in the shadow of his dad. They had been married for 67 years. And two days after he died, Norma, who was already grieving, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The doctor recommended a hysterectomy and chemotherapy.

RAMIE LIDDLE: She said, nope, I'm not doing any of that.

CORNISH: That's Ramie Liddle, Tim's wife. The couple offered to have Norma come live with them, but there was a catch. They live in an RV and travel full-time. Ramie says that Norma took about two minutes and then gave them her answer.

LIDDLE: I'm 90-years-old, I'm hitting the road. Let's go have some fun. I don't want to spend another minute in a doctor's office.

MCEVERS: And so last summer marked the start of a year-long adventure for Norma, Ramie, Tim and the couple's poodle Ringo (ph). Before she was married, Norma had served in the Navy. She was a nurse at a hospital in San Diego during World War II. After that, her life was contained to Michigan.

CORNISH: So as soon as the foursome pulled away in the RV, Norma experienced many firsts.

BAUERSCHMIDT: Never been to Wisconsin, the state next to Michigan...

LIDDLE: Yeah.

BAUERSCHMIDT: ...I've never been here.

LIDDLE: Yeah.

BAUERSCHMIDT: Foods she'd never ate.

LIDDLE: A buffalo burger, a lobster, oysters. She realized real quickly that she loves key lime pie.

BAUERSCHMIDT: Or just attractions, she's never seen the Grand Canyon. She'd never seen any of the National Parks. She's never seen Disneyland.

LIDDLE: Never been to Florida.

BAUERSCHMIDT: Never been to Florida, never stayed at a stranger's house.

CORNISH: Ramie started to document their adventures.

LIDDLE: Yeah, I decided to put it on Facebook. I used to keep a travel blog because Tim and I were always on the road. And honestly, I liked to let my mom, who lives in Pittsburgh, know where we were.

MCEVERS: She named the Facebook page Driving Miss Norma. And after a few months, people beyond Ramie's mom started to take notice. A website picked up on it, and they ended up with hundreds of thousands of followers.

CORNISH: People around the world were in awe of Norma, the way Ramie and Tim were.

BAUERSCHMIDT: I used to say no to a lot of things. My knee-jerk reaction to most things, no, no. But now I hold my tongue and I consider it. And I'm saying yes to uncomfortable situations.

MCEVERS: Norma Bauerschmidt died last week at the age of 91. Her memorial service is today in Friday Harbor, Wash., on the other side of the country from where her RV adventures began.

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