When you’re heavily engrossed in your career, family, and the daily grind, it’s very easy to forget that our time here on Earth is finite and should be cherished immensely. Because of all of the distractions that life provides, sometimes the only time people are able to pause and reflect, is in the wake of tragedy or the sudden oncoming of sickness. For 91-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt of Michigan, that moment of reflection came after a diagnosis from her doctor of uterine cancer.

Having recently lost her husband, Bauerschmidt knew all too well how quickly the last years of life can slip by. Although her doctor proposed operation and other methods of treatment after the diagnosis, Bauerschmidt quickly declared she would not proceed with any of the recommendations. Instead, stating that she would embark on a journey around the country, to cross things she’s always wanted to try off her bucket list and spend however much time she had left of life, enjoying it to the fullest. And that’s exactly what she did. Accompanied by her son, Tim Bauerschmidt, her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle, and their dog, Ringo, Ms. Bauerschmidt disembarked from Michigan in 2015, and in one year the group had travelled almost 13,000 miles, stopping in more than 30 states. They chronicled the entire journey on the Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma, which now has more than 470,000 likes. After taking a look at the pictures of their trip, it’s easy to see why so many people decided to follow her journey.

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They visited some classic roadside attractions… 

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…made sure to visit some landmark locations like this 125-year-old tree in Washington… 

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Soaked in amazing natural landscapes like the Grand Canyon. 

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Enjoyed some super scenic walks…

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…and of course, enjoyed the sights on the open road. 

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While the group set off for the trip in an RV, they did sometimes change modes of transportation at different points during the trip… Nothing was too outlandish for Norma, as long as Ringo was by her side. 

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They visited beaches and collected shells together. 

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They took silly pictures.

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Ringo made some friends along the way. 

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And they made the most of every day, side by side. 

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Norma passed away at the end of September but as her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle, shared in an interview with Straits Times, “this isn’t even a sad story, at all.” Norma experienced more in her last year of life than many people do in their entire lifetime. She saw amazing sights, had tons of fun, and got to spend ample time with her best animal friend in the world. Their friendship is truly indicative of how amazing the companionship of an animal can be, especially for elderly folk. Hunter S. Thompson once said that “life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” Norma’s journey is definitely a reminder of this message to live life to the fullest. Goodness knows, she certainly did.

All image source: Driving Miss Norma/Facebook