Driving Miss Norma is an inspiring and quirky read

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“I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road!”

So starts the true story of Norma Bauerschmidt, an upbeat and adventurous old woman who has inspired many by her cheerful perseverance in the face of a grim diagnosis. I fell in love with Miss Norma after only a few pages; it would’ve been hard not to. Her quiet but spunky character is so charming, and her almost childlike joy in the simplest things delighted my heart.

Following the death of her husband, Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, but instead of taking chemotherapy and other treatments, she made the epic decision to throw caution to the wind and live out her final days the right way: on the road.

Accompanied by her son (Tim), her daughter-in-law (Ramie), and their poodle, Norma, boarded their RV and experienced life as she never had before. There was nearly no limit on where they could go. As they traveled, her story became widely known, and soon, Norma began inspiring people to live life to the fullest. On their nationwide road trip with 75 stops in 32 states, Norma was able to do all she ever wanted to do and more.

Driving Miss Norma started out a little slow for me in the prologue, but after a few pages, I quickly settled into the plot, savoring every word that Tim and Ramie wrote. Every anecdote conjured up yet another positive image in my mind of Norma being this humble yet humorous nonagenarian. Her strong-willed determination continuously brought a smile to my face.

The interchanging perspectives of Tim and Ramie added a deeper connection to Norma’s story. Ramie encouraged every excursion and interaction, while Tim fretted about his mother’s frailty. Although she was in a lot of pain from her disease and other ailments, Norma continued to persevere. I especially loved how Ramie described their quirky adventure as “riding a wave of love across the country” after nearly everyone they encountered strove to make Norma’s journey even more amazing.

Her example encourages me, and I love her refusal to let uncertainties of the future rob her of joy of the present. My problems aren’t the same as hers, but I want to live my life just like she did. The energy she poured into living even at her age connected with me, and it made me reevaluate my perspective on life. She experienced the pleasure of every moment, unburdened by worries of what will come. Driving Miss Norma is not a book about dying well– it’s a book about living well.

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