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Sunday, August 19, 2018

DRIVING MISS NORMA: ONE FAMILY'S JOURNEY SAYING "YES" to LIVING (audiobook) by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

Published by HarperAudio in 2017
Read by Christopher Grove and Nan McNamara
Duration: 7 hours, 30 minutes

Norma and Leo were together for 67 years, happily married in Michigan. Sure, they were slowing down, but they were still living on their own and doing it well. Then, Leo go very sick and ended up dying two weeks later in a hospice. While Leo was dying, Norma discovered that she had a cancerous mass on her uterus. At 90 years old, this surgery would be very tough on Norma. At best, there would be a long, tough recovery period after surgery. At worst, the surgery could have fatal complications, all the more likely due to Norma's age.

Norma's son and daughter-in-law had been living the RV lifestyle for several years and, after a long discussion with Norma's doctors, Norma decided to join them rather than seek medical treatment. The doctors predicted that probably would live less than a year without the surgery. She decided to forego the treatment and use her remaining months to see the world.

So, they traded in the old RV camper and got a new one to better accommodate Norma. Then, they hit the road and headed west, seeing great sights, like Yellowstone, and cheesy ones, like the Corn Palace. Norma basically hadn't traveled since World War II so she was interested in seeing any and all of the United States.

Norma's daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle, had a habit of keeping a travel blog to share her adventures with her friends. She kept up the habit on this trip, but thanks to the power of Facebook (and its share feature), soon she had thousands of followers and the regular media started to note this story of the little old lady that decided to embrace what she had left of life rather than fight a messy fight to add a few more painful months. Soon enough, Norma became a minor celebrity and found herself invited to suites at the Atlanta Falcons game, riding in parades and being invited to events all over the country and the world. 

Sadly, Norma's health did decline as she was heading out west for the second time. She lived for more than a year before she declined, which was longer than her doctors had predicted. She passed away in Washington state, only wanting to be remembered as "a nice person".

In many ways, this is an inspiring book. I was struck by the fact that she is such a standout for simply choosing to enjoy what was rest of her already long life.

The book was written by Norma's son and daughter-in-law. Rather than working together on the text, they took turns telling their story. The audiobook follows this format with Christopher Grove reading Tim Bauerschmidt's text and Nan McNamara reading for Ramie Liddle. That was a nice touch.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5 and it can be found on Amazon.com here: DRIVING MISS NORMA: ONE FAMILY'S JOURNEY SAYING "YES" to LIVING by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle.

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