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DRIVING MISS NORMA

‘DRIVING MISS NORMA’ AUTHORS SHARE THEIR STORY IN TALLAHASSEE

Free event celebrates Big Bend Hospice and Aging with Dignity anniversaries

When 90-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with cancer, she said no to treatment and yes to adventure, and her story has inspired thousands of people around the globe.

Now Tallahasseeans can hear about this incredible woman first hand. Her son and daughter-in-law, Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle, the authors of “Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying ‘Yes’ to Living” will speak from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Nov. 5, at the Carriage House of Goodwood Museum and Gardens.

They will share adventures from their year-long road trip to fulfill Norma’s wishes to live on her own terms and how her story has changed the way people view death and dying. The event is free and celebrates National Hospice Month, Big Bend Hospice’s 35th Anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of Aging with Dignity (Five Wishes).

 “I can’t think of a better story to share during National Hospice Month,” said the Rev. Candace McKibben, director of Faith Outreach for Big Bend Hospice. “Hospice is all about hope and empowering people to experience the end of life as they wish. We can learn so much from Norma.”

Norma was diagnosed with cancer just two days after her husband of 67 years died. She vowed not to spend another minute in the doctor’s office and instead hit the road with Bauerschmidt and Liddle in their RV.

They traveled 13,000 miles and visited 32 states. Along the way, Norma experienced many firsts before her death at the age of 91. She saw the Grand Canyon, soared in a hot-air balloon and rode a horse. She also discovered that she loved buffalo burgers, fried green tomatoes and key lime pie. Hundreds of thousands of people followed the family’s adventures on social media and now have read the book. Norma is still inspiring her family and others to say ‘Yes!”

“I used to say ‘No,’ to a lot of things,” Bauerschmidt said in an NPR interview. “My knee jerk reaction to most things – no, no – but now I hold my tongue and I consider it, and I’m saying ‘Yes,’ to uncomfortable situations.”

Bauerschmidt and Liddle are active public speakers and advocates for caregivers. They also encourage individuals and families to discuss the end of life and make their wishes known. Aging with Dignity distributes Five Wishes, a document that helps families start the conversation and document their loved ones’ wishes. Copies will be available at the event.

“Five Wishes is often called the ‘living will with a heart and soul,’ said Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity. “It includes the things that matter most, and it is easy to use and understand. Norma’s story reminds us that with planning and conversation, we can make dignified care at the end of life a reality for all.”

Bauerschmidt and Liddle will speak and then answer questions. Their beloved standard poodle, Ringo, will join them, and Norma’s favorites, key lime pie and root beer will be served. Books will be available for sale and signatures.

To claim your seat or for more information, please contact the Rev. Candace McKibben at 850-671-6029 or candace@bigbendhospice.org.