Bauerschmidt became a most unlikely world internet
sensation after the 90-year-old Michigan widow said no
to cancer treatment and yes to hitting the road in an RV
with her son and his wife and their poodle.
13,000-mile journey around the country, starting in
2015, came to be followed by hundreds of thousands on
the "Driving Miss Norma" Facebook page started
by her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle. They stopped near
there last June and had a memorable visit in and around
Pittsburgh just before Bauerschmidt’s health began to
fade and she died at the end of September on San Juan
Liddle and Tim Bauerschmidt have written "Driving
Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying ‘Yes’ to
book ($29.99 list price for the hardback) was published
in May by HarperOne in the United States and the United
Kingdom, and is set to be published in 10 other
languages for fans who span the globe. The couple’s
Facebook page still has more than a half million
followers, hundreds of whom have been coming to
bookstores and restaurants and libraries to literally
connect with them in person. They’re on a
more-than-first-name basis with this couple who shared
so much of themselves, and many of them continue to
share it back.
many hugs and tears and cries and personal
stories," said Tim in a phone chat while sitting
with Ramie and Ringo recently inside their 36-foot-long
RV during a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
wintering in Mexico and writing the book (they take
turns on chapters), the trio headed back out this spring
on a tour across the South and up through the Northeast,
doing about a dozen appearances. Pittsburgh is the next
one, and after that, they don’t know what they are
going to do, except for going to Michigan to conclude
the sale of Miss Norma’s house.
still feels uncomfortable with all the attention, but
says he feels called to continue this conversation they
started. "For some reason we were tapped to show
this and put it out there."
"say yes to living" theme that touched so many
people while his mom was alive is more deeply amplified
in the book, which includes revelations such as how Tim
and his sister, Stacy, were adopted, and previously
unshared details such as how the family sought and found
solace at a legal medical marijuana shop in Colorado.
fact, cannabis was the subject of the first question at
their first four tour stops, says Ramie, who was
surprised at "the readiness of people to really
talk about it and want to understand it."
book continues to be a starter of powerful conversations
among other family members dealing with their own
end-of-life and family issues. The realization that they’re
helping other people is what makes them continue to talk
about it, as well.
can’t imagine that we couldn’t have done anything
better for the three of us," says Ramie about their
decision — not an easy one — to take the old and
ailing Norma on the road. While they have heard from
more than one family that have also taken things on the
road, that was never their point. Their point, which
their followers helped them find on their journey, was
for people to talk and to be open to living life fully
in whatever ways work for them.
both say they’re looking forward to coming back to
Western Pennsylvania, which shows up in the book,
including in several of Ramie’s photos of a beaming
Norma. In one, she’s holding a Primanti’s sandwich
and a bottle of Yuengling. Some readers who prefer to
remember her that way have told the couple they decided
to not read the last chapters of the book, knowing how
they turn out.
couple do tell more of the darker details, including
Ramie’s honest (and tired) reaction to her
mother-in-law needing to go to the hospital here on the
day she was to officiate her friends’ wedding:
"You have got to be kidding me!"
as Tim says, "A lot of people thanked us for
showing the whole story."
next for them? "We’re trying to figure that
out," says Ramie, who might want to write a
children’s book, or books, on this theme. Tim thinks
there might be more to write about the people touched by
his mom’s story and dealing with their own struggles.
"Driving Miss Norma" could at some point be a
movie, as the couple sold those rights. They’ve heard
that Fox Searchlight Pictures is moving forward with it.
is pretty sure that they’ll head back out West after
closing on Norma’s house. He’s not planning on
taking much from there in a physical sense, but this
journey also has helped him realize how much he’s
gotten from there otherwise.
the biggest legacy I have is the book I wrote that
honors my Mom and Dad and sister."