If you were 91- years-old and you just got diagnosed with uterine cancer two days after your spouse of 67 years passed away, would you opt for the confines of treatments and life in a hospital or would you work on checking off items on your bucket list?
A Michigan resident by the name of Norma, was faced with this decision and she proudly chose the latter.
Having always wanted to go on a cross country road trip, Norma gathered willing family members and got them on board with her adventurous plan.
“I’m 90 years old. I’m not doing that,” said Norma in response to doctors recommendation of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The woman had her mind made up and there was nothing that could sway her.
Daughter-in-law Ramie and husband Tim, were then faced with two options for Norma. They could put her in an assisted living home or they could take her along for the road trip of a lifetime.
They had just retired and had plans to travel the country together, so they decided to let Norma tag along.
When Ramie and Tim presented Norma with the idea, she answered confidently and promptly… ‘Yep. I think I’d like to go along.’”
The couple immediately closed up Norma’s house, not knowing how much time she had left. They also upgraded to a motor home that was 36 feet and able to accommodate the added passenger.
Then, in late August, Tim, Ramie and Norma, along with the couple’s standard poodle, started the adventure of a lifetime, an indefinite trip across the United States.
The couple noticed that Norma was fueled by the trip and was soon showing signs of happiness again.
She had suffered such deep grief when she lost her husband Leo and had recently lost her brother, that they hadn’t seen her sparkle like this for quite some time.
“We see a spark in her eye that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Ramie. “She’s up for most anything.”
And she has certainly been up for anything. The threesome has covered more ground than most and here are some pictures of them to prove it…
The trio started out in Michigan and then traveled to South Dakota to view Mount Rushmore.
They went on to check out the bison in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, before taking in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.
They visited The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and Norma, who was a Nurse in the Navy was treated like a goddess.
She had served in the WAVES unit, and the staff at the museum recognized her for her service. Then, they went on to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida where they saw the space shuttle, before walking some beautiful Florida beaches.
Tim and Ramie have no regrets about taking Norma on the road with them and they have witnessed the joy that she has had from all the experiences on the road.
“She’s living life and not in an end-of-life mentality,” said Ramie. “She’s in the present moment.”
“We love traveling with her,” Ramie says. “We’ve been to a lot of these places, but we’re seeing them through fresh new eyes and it’s fun to see her reactions and meet people on the road.” Ramie, 50 and Tim, 58 are grateful that they had the opportunity to travel the country with Norma.
“We go out of our way to make her smile,” she said, “and it becomes this ripple effect that’s powerful for all of us.”