Ever since Norma Bauerschmidt lost her husband and was simultaneously diagnosed with cancer, she’s been on the road. Last year at age 90, she opted out of treatment and chose to go on a cross-country tour of the U.S. Now she’s returned home to Michigan.
Traveling with her son and daughter-in-law, Bauerschmidt became a minor celebrity: The family documented its journey across 26 states on a Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma, which has attracted nearly 400,000 followers.
And while she’s had the trip of a lifetime, including the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and a hot-air balloon ride, she had a bittersweet stop to make when she returned to Presque Isles, Michigan.
The photo of her sitting in a wheelchair at her husband’s grave, captioned "one year later," inspired one of her online fans, Donna McCarty-Weaver, to write:
“Visit and chat. But do not stay. There are more places to go and people to meet.
When it is time to come to me, then we will speak forever of our life and our love.
I'll show you around here, all the new places. You can tell me of all your wonderful adventures.
Sit and chat and tell me you love me. Then go. But always know that wherever you travel, my heart travels too.”
When others asked the source of the words, McCarty-Weaver replied, “I wrote this just for Miss Norma. The picture just brought it to my mind.”
Bauerschmidt, who turned 91 at the end of March, is doing fine. She recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I haven’t gone to the doctor since I left Michigan.”
Postscript: Norma passed away in the fall of 2016 at the age of 91 after a year of traveling across the United States. To see more about her journey, visit her Facebook page.