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The Last Days of ‘Driving Miss Norma’

She chose travel over chemo and taught us all about life


A few months ago, Next Avenue shared the story of a 90-year-old Norma Jean Bauerschmidt, a Michigan woman who responded to a diagnosis of uterine cancer with the words: “I’m 90 years old, I’m hitting the road.”

Her caregivers, who had read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, supported the decision of the person they described as a “tiny woman at 101 pounds.” So did her doctor.

Bauerschmidt and her caregivers then hit the road. They documented her travels — and final days in hospice — on Facebook for a following that grew to more than 450,000. The last post on the “Driving Miss Norma” page was made on Sept. 30. “Today we are letting go,” it reads. “Norma Jean Bauerschmidt, March 31, 1925 – September 30, 2016.”

Here’s a look back at the last days of the woman who inspired so many with her insistence on enjoying life right up to the end.

By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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