Thursday, July 13, 2017

Driving Miss Norma

Title: Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living
Author: Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
Published: May 2nd 2017 by HarperOne
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Genre: Memoir

This is a hard one for me. I love what Norma’s son and daughter-in-law did for her, but throughout the book, I kept wondering if Ramie knew what a weak man that she was married to. That if anything happened to her, her husband Tim would not be able to take care of her. I have never read a memoir where a grown man would willingly tell his readers that he was too afraid of the world knowing his name, or having to leave a room when a bandage was needed. A man that left it up to his wife to be the caregiver to his own mother that he himself should have been. He came across as a very selfish child and I feel that he distracted from the story that was being told.

After the death of her husband, nonagenarian Norma received her own cancer diagnosis. When given the treatment options, of which none sounded appealing, she weighed her options and decides to hit the road with Tim and Ramie -- which is a good thing since I wonder if her son would have left her in a care facility so he could return to his own self-indulgent nomadic lifestyle. Together, this band of three plus a dog, hit the road to embark on a yearlong adventure.

From the accounts relayed, it sounded as if Norma was kept cloistered by an overbearing husband and when the opportunity to see and experience parts of the US, that she had only dreamed of, she took hold and in doing so, would slowly come out of her shell and live the life that was denied her.

There is laughter and optimism in this book, there are times when I wanted to shake a selfish man and hug a daughter-in-law. Ramie was tested in ways that she was not prepared for, yet took on so she could give a woman that she had grown to love, the final days that she deserved. This was also a healing trip for Norma, she never spoke about the death of her only daughter until she met a woman on her journey that had also lost a child and realized that sometimes people are put in your life to help you to heal and that is what both this woman and this journey did for Norma.

That is the part that I am going to focus on. I am not going to count the number of times that Tim spoke about himself or lamented that his privacy was invaded (yet he did not have a problem when he was the center of attention or free accommodations were given to them). I am going to remember Norma as a person that was finally able to live her moments and to meet and share her story with the people that would carry her to final days with a smile on her face.

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