You can hardly think past lunch, much less how and where you’ll spend the rest of your life.
Then your son and daughter-in-law, who have spent much of the last decade living out of an Airstream trailer, ask if you’d like to come along with them.
“You don’t have to give us an answer right away,” they say. Everyone keeps eating their ham salad sandwiches. After two minutes, you’re the one who breaks the silence.
“I think,” you say, “I’d like to come along.”
With those seven words, Norma Bauerschmidt not only changed her life and the lives of her son and daughter-in-law, Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle. She also changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
When Norma, known as Miss Norma, died Sept. 30, 2.8 million people viewed the announcement on the Driving Miss Norma Facebook page that Ramie had set up (mostly to let her own mother in Pennsylvania know where they were). More than 39,000 people left comments; one comment had 80 replies. Her obituary ran on NPR, and in The Washington Post and the Miami Herald.
“It’s mind-boggling,” Tim says of the response it’s received. And no wonder: Aside from being stationed in San Diego as a nurse during World War II, his mother had hardly ever ventured outside of Michigan.
She had never eaten lobster, never ridden a horse, never zip-lined nor waved at spectators from a convertible in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. She certainly had never used medical marijuana (which she preferred to call cannabis) or been a VIP co-captain at an NBA basketball game. During her year on the road, she did all of these, and so much more.
Tim likens his mother’s life to that of a century plant, which he and Ramie see