Norma Bauerschmidt, from Michigan, died last Friday (30th September) in her son’s motorhome, aged 91 years.
Perhaps you know her better as Driving Miss Norma.
When Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer last year, at the age of 90, she refused treatment.
Instead she went on a road trip across the USA with her son Tim, his wife Ramie Liddle and their poodle Ringo.
She became an internet sensation when her Facebook page went viral, and hundreds of thousands of people across the world followed her adventures.
They savoured her tasting artisan beers, marvelled at her first hot-air balloon ride, and most of all cheered her love of life and determination to wring every last minute out of it.
Norma’s joie de vivre, her courage, her determination to live in, and for, the moment, inspired everyone she met, or who followed her on social media.
It would be too trite – and not true – to say that Norma’s decision to eschew cancer treatment in an old folk’s home, for a (possibly) shorter life on the road was what inspired us to pack up and travel across Europe in a van.
We had decided on our journey before we heard Norma’s story.
But it was little bit of that pioneer spirit, that determination to live, rather than exist, that drove us to give up our current work to discover more about our own continent, and ourselves.
Living in a van is not for everyone. Taking financial risks is not for everyone.
For us leaving our grandchildren for a year was the tough choice.
But the lure of adventure was too strong to resist.
This week we are in France. Next week Germany, and then on to Greece to spend the winter months drinking retsina, and who knows what else.
I will never fly in a hot air balloon, but I have already sampled some Belgian artisan beer, and I am definitely going to have the time of my life…just like Norma Bauerschmidt did.
Read an appreciation of Norma’s life here.
Photo: From Driving Miss Norma on Facebook