People play games all the time where they ask each other life questions like, “What would you bring to a desert island if you could only bring one thing?” The “would you rather” game is fun. You give a person two options and say, “Would you rather do this, or would you rather do this?” Another popular one is, “If you only had one year to live, what would you do?” When one woman got a fatal diagnosis, the last game became a reality.
Norma Bauerschnidt grew up in Ohio, and always craved adventure. She says that growing up, she always had her nose in a book, going along with the characters on their adventures. As she got older, she began to want more than the quiet Midwestern life she was living. She wanted to live the adventures that she read about.
World War II Nurse
When World War II started, Norma finally had her chance for an adventure. She became a nurse with the U.S. Navy, and she loved the work. It was exhausting, but it was also exciting. For the first time in her life, Norma felt that she was doing something worthwhile. She was able to leave her Midwestern home and go where she was needed. She says that it was one of the first times in her life that she ever felt needed. When the war ended, Norma had to head back home.
Norma wasn’t too happy about having to go back home with no plans for the future. She was questioning what she would do with the rest of her life when she met Leo. The two quickly hit it off and fell in love. In 1948, Norma became Mrs. Leo Bauserschidt, and they began their lifelong journey together.
The Good and the Bad
Like most people’s lives, Norma and Leo’s lives were filled with joy and sorrow. They had a family who they loved, but there were times when they struggled financially to keep their family afloat. They also suffered the loss of their daughter, Stacey, to cancer. No parent should ever have to bury a child, and losing their daughter almost killed them both. It was their love for one another that kept them going. They were very happy together, but their dream of going on adventures together died when they had a family.
Leo and Norma always promised one another that one day, they would have their adventure together. Sadly, this never happened. In 2015, Leo died. He was Norma’s partner and best friend for 67-years, and he was gone. Again, Norma’s future was up in the air. Right after she buried her husband, her life changed again.
Two days after Leo passed, Norma was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer. She was 90-years-old at the time, and she listened to the doctor giving her treatment options. They told her that surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy were all options. This is a conversation that would scare anyone to death, but Norma wasn’t just anyone. As her doctor spoke, she couldn’t help but think about all of the adventures that she wanted to go on as a girl. She always dreamed of traveling the country and seeing the world. While the doctor discussed her prognosis, she realized that this was her last chance to make her dreams of adventure come true.
Realizing Her Dream
Nora’s son, Tim, and his wife, Ramie, sold their home, and they bought a 36-foot mobile care facility. With their poodle, Ringo, in tow, they decided to help Norma’s dreams of adventure come true. The three of them set out on a 15,000-mile adventure that took them across the United States. Nora did plenty of things from going to NBA games to sailing on whaling ships in the Pacific Northwest. She came face-to-face with wild animals, and went zip lining. She tried new foods and did incredible things. Still, there was one thing left that she always wanted to do.
Hot Air Balloon
Norma and Leo always talked about taking a hot air balloon trip. Norma didn’t mention it as part of their itinerary, but Tim remembered his parents talking about it all the time. When he and his wife were helping Norma pack, they found brochures for hot air balloon trips. They were going to surprise Norma with the adventure of a lifetime.
Tim and Ramie planned the surprise trip just in time for Christmas. When Norma realized what was happening, she had a smile on her face like Tim had never seen before. During their trip, Norma made hundreds of new friends. She even kept a book, journaling her adventures. Tim wanted to turn into a book and hoped to debut, “Driving Miss Norma, ” with his mother by his side. Sadly, their journey came to an end on September 30, 2016, when Norma died. They released the book, and Norma’s story was out there to inspire grandparents all over the world. This woman’s unusual answer to doctor’s fatal diagnosis leaves her family speechless. Rather than getting treatment, she wanted adventure. Thanks to Tim and Ramie, that’s what she got.