Summary and book reviews of Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt

Driving Miss Norma

One Family's Journey Saying YES to Living

by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt

Driving Miss Norma by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt X
Driving Miss Norma by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2017, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2018, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky

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About this Book

Book Summary

Infused with this irrepressible nonagenarian's wisdom, courage, and generous spirit, and filled with sixteen pages of color photographs, Driving Miss Norma reminds us that life is beautiful and precious, and that family, fun, and self-discovery can happen at any age.

When Miss Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But instead of confining herself to a hospital bed for what could be her last stay, Norma - newly widowed after nearly seven decades of marriage - rose to her full height of five feet and told her doctor, "I'm ninety years old. I'm hitting the road."

Packing what she needed, Norma took off on an unforgettable cross-country journey with three professional nomads - her retired son Tim, his wife Ramie, and their Standard Poodle Ringo - in a thirty-six-foot RV. Driving Miss Norma is the charming, infectiously joyous chronicle of their experiences on the road - a transformative journey of living life on your own terms that shows us that it is never too late to begin an adventure, inspire hope, or become a trailblazer.

As this once timid woman says "yes" to living in the face of death, she tries regional foods for the first time, zip-lines through a former stranger's yard, and reaches for the clouds in a hot air balloon. With each passing mile (and one educational visit to a cannabis dispensary), Miss Norma's health improves and conversations that had once been taboo begin to unfold. Norma, Tim, and Ramie bond in ways they had never done before, and their definitions of home, family, and friendship expand. Stop by stop, state by state, they meet countless people from all walks of life - strangers who become fast friends and welcome them with kindness and open hearts.

Excerpt
Driving Miss Norma

We never even had time to unhitch our Airstream from the truck. Three days after we had pulled into the driveway, Leo lay on his side in the fetal position in a hospital bed, his organs failing. The Fentanyl patches he was using to control his unbearable back pain—the result of what we eventually learned was a compression fracture—apparently pushed his body chemistry out of whack, and the doctors could not bring it back to order. He appeared so uncomfortable and alone. Norma was smaller than she had ever looked, dwarfed by the reclining hospital chair next to Leo's bed. She was silent.

Tim crawled into bed with his dad, spooning him. I handed him a damp cloth, and he used it to gently wipe Leo's brow. Repeatedly, Tim told him, "It's okay, I'm going to take care of Mom. I love you. Everything is going to be okay."

After some time, Tim took a break and I crawled into the bed with Leo. We did this off and on that morning until Norma...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In the telling of this remarkable story, Bauerschmidt and Liddle complement each other beautifully. Tim isn't keen on the publicity Norma's receiving, telling Ramie that he's a private guy, and it shows – his writing is sometimes stiff, tentative. But he grows into it, turning a few phrases nicely along the way, such as being "full of grateful determination" when on the way to pick up their new RV to begin the journey. Liddle, on the other hand, mines the depths of their ever-shifting emotions, becoming the guiding light for our own feelings about this stage of life for Norma. And all the time, Norma is the sparkling life of these pages, which transforms those who ride along.   (Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Depicting the ageless human capacity to learn and grow, the author celebrates life and offers a heartfelt vision of what dying a good death really means. An uplifting and life-affirming memoir.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Tim, Ramie, and Norma's travels are joyful and moving…Norma's willingness to be fearless and open to whatever comes her way…offers profound insights into how we choose to live.

Booklist
Starred Review. This is a delightful chronicle of a family determined to celebrate life rather than dread death, and everyone can learn from their courage.

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Beyond the Book

Retired RV Adventurers

NormaWhen Norma joined her son Tim Bauerschmidt and his wife Ramie Liddle on the road, Tim was 57 years old. "Ramie and I had been able to retire early because of many years of frugal living, our lack of debt, and forgoing having a family," he writes in his memoir about his mother, Driving Miss Norma. "We always drove older vehicles and almost never splurged while we were on the road."

Bauerschmidt and Liddle had been living the RV lifestyle long before they retired, living wherever Liddle was working, and traveling the rest of the time to different destinations, but most often to Baja California, Mexico in the winter, and the eastern US in the summer. Every set of retirees has a different approach to the RV life, and there is a wealth of ...

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