By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
A 91-year-old Michigan woman who decided on a road trip instead of treatment when diagnosed with cancer last year has died.
Norma Jean Bauerschmidt died Friday on Washington state’s San Juan Island, CBS News reported. Her death was announced on “Driving Miss Norma,” a Facebook page her family set up to chronicle her adventures.
The announcement quoted a 13th century poet: “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”
Bauerschmidt’s family wrote, “Today we are letting go.” The comment was followed by her date of birth and date of death.
Many of the more than 450,000 people following her travels expressed their feelings upon her death.
“Oh, Miss Norma, you will be missed by millions,” wrote Beth Lee Tierney.” You have made me laugh, cry, smile and giggle more than I have in a long time. You’ve made me see life in a whole different perspective, and I thank you! Rest well, Miss Norma. Rest in peace.”
Bauerschmidt made headlines last year when news of her decision went public. She was diagnosed with a large mass on her uterus within days of the death of her husband of 67 years.
Deciding to leave sickness and sadness behind, Bauerschmidt boarded a mobile home with her son, Tim, daughter-in-law, Ramie, and their poodle, Ringo, and hit the road. In the first six months of her journey, she had already taken in sites like Disney World, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore, as well as a flight in a hot air balloon.
Bauerschmidt, whose hobbies and interests included rock hounding, knitting, reading, Sudoku, tea, beer and sweet wine, told CBS News in March that her family had “given (her) a new lease on life.” Her son said the trip had also given him the opportunity to get to know his mom better.
In early September, the family announced that Bauerschmidt’s health had begun to decline and that they’d “been slowly coming to terms with the fact that (their) grand adventure with Miss Norma may be coming to a close.” They had enlisted a hospice team to help care for her in the end chapter of her life.
Over her final weeks, her fans sent her much love and support from across the country.
“Love to Miss Norma from Surprise, Arizona,” Carol Tomlin Koch wrote. “Your journey has brightened thousands of lives. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration and treasure.”