A Lesson in Perspective from Norma Jean Bauerschmidt

Sometimes it’s hard to say good bye.

And as the family continues resettling into our old, comfortable world here on Australia’s southern Gold Coast, saying bye to the past year’s adventure is proving a little more eventful than we may have expected. Issues surrounding grating confrontations with bureaucratic red tape, day care and finding simple gainful employment  have reminded us daily for the past couple weeks, we’re most definitely home.

But, I’m not going to bore you with any of that. A big reason being because, this is all a part of it. We had a full year’s worth of fun; expecting a completely smooth re entry is a asking a bit much.

But even more significantly, as a couple people have recently and so expertly demonstrated, when all is said and done, none of it really matters.

The first person in question is an old surfing mate who did a lot to bail us out of a few long distance issues while we were away. Due to the ongoing complications of a liver transplant years ago and autoimmune disease, he’s now being forced to deal with the reality of incorporating dialysis into his  weekly routine.

It’s a massive lifestyle adjustment and there’s so much for him to take on board. And, yet, despite a fairly formidable and uncomfortable learning curve early on, the guy’s tackling this challenge in a positive manner that is nothing less than impressive. So much so, he’s single handily doing his part to keep our own bumps in the road in proper prospective.

The next person is someone I never met and someone I’m sure my 93 year old friend Gunter Kaufmann would’ve probably considered a kindred spirit.

Apparently Norma’s smile was infectious

Her name is Norma Jean Bauerschmidt. She is the 91 year old American woman who, when confronted with the prospect of extensive and most probably futile medical procedures to treat her uterine cancer, emphatically replied, “I’m 90 years old. I’m hitting the road.”

What followed would be a year-long, 13,000 mile (20,800 km ) RV adventure through 32 states. It would be an adventure that would see her, among many, many things, going for a horseback ride and a hot air balloon ride. All this and an assortment of many other activities that would fall into the category of ‘life firsts’.

In all, more than 400,000 people would follow along Norma’s Facebook page “Driving Miss Norma” as she, her son, her daughter-in-law and their dog, Dingo, criss-crossed the U.S. after setting out back on August 24, 2015.

All until last August and what would prove her trip’s last stop in Washington State’s Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. It’d be there Miss Bauerschmidt’s failing health saw her enter hospice before finally succumbing to her cancer this past week.

A post that marked the completion of one full year on the road probably summed it up best.

“Over these past 12 months, all of us have learned so much about living, caring, loving and embracing the present moment. No matter where we are, when asked where her favorite spot has been on this trip, Norma now says, ‘Right here!’”

Right here. Right now.

If it’s possible for a mere four words to be any more profound, I’m all ears. For now, however, I’m sceptical and will leave my vote of confidence with my quietly inspirational surfing companion and the late Gunter Kaufmann and Ms. Norma Jean Bauerschmidt.

Life is full of pot holes, some more challenging than others and, as my incapacitated friend would recently suggest, keeping things in a proper perspective is paramount. There, with minimal energy, gout riddled from excessive amounts of urea in his blood and with a badly bruised left bicep that looked like he’d been beat repeatedly with a cricket bat, he’d listened quietly.

It was a ‘woeful’ tale on my part and one whose exact details I’m still somewhat embarrassed to admit to having revealed to a man in his medical condition. Something about a cracked front car windshield and a near four year old damn near addicted to Netflix and practically incapable of sleeping in her own bed in her own room due to the sleeping arrangements of the past year.

“I wish I had your problems,” was all he needed to say to bring things to a rather abrupt and comical halt.

And today, as so many are saying bye to such an inspirational woman, I feel fairly certain, somewhere, Norma Jean Bauerschmidt is laughing as well.


One Comment

  1. Ben Bowden March 29, 2017 Reply

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