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Big Bend Hospice Celebrates With the Tale of a Life Joyfully Concluded

Big Bend Hospice

Here’s a positive, uplifting story with a happy ending. It’s about a lady who, along with her family, made sure her own ending was a happy one.

Candace McKibbon is an ordained minister who serves as the director of faith outreach at Big Bend Hospice. But this reverend revealed there are lots of reasons to party during the month of November.

“We are celebrating National Hospice Month, Aging With Dignity’s 20th birthday and Big Bend Hospice’s thirty-fifth birthday with an even at Goodwood’s Carriage House on November 5th from 6 until 7:30.”

And what better way to celebrate all those observances, McKibbon explained, than to recount the tale of a very special life.

“The event is called ‘Driving Ms. Norma’ and it is the story of a 90 year-old woman who was diagnosed with uterine cancer two days after her husband of nearly 70 years died.”

Although that might sound at first like a sad and horrible tragedy, McKibbon insisted that wasn’t the way Ms. Norma’s story ultimately turned out at all.

“She was asked by her son and daughter-in-law who happened to have retired in their 50s and were nomadic and traveled across the country in a motorhome, if she wanted to come with them on their journey. So rather than take the surgery and chemo and radiation that the doctor prescribed, she decided she would like to go with them on this journey.”

Thus, said McKibbon, began an extraordinary sojourn for all of them.

“They realized in the course of a little over a year some of the dreams that Ms. Norma had for her life. They got to know each other better. It is a delightful, heartwarming story that they’ve written and now the authors are coming to Tallahassee to be here with us on November fifth to share their story.”

McKibbon noted the story even had a little bit of a Sunshine State connection.

“In Florida, as part of their travels, they went up in a hot air balloon. She said, ‘I don’t know how I’ll get in the basket!’ And a very large employee of the balloon company just lifted her right up and set her in. And she rode a horse for the first time. At age 90, she was the marshal in a parade. She got to do so many amazing things. And you know when I first thought about it, I kind of thought that was fairy-taleish and not something that we can do. But what they tried to do was simply to be attentive to the things that they knew their mother wanted.”

Which, McKibbon said,  is the whole purpose of this coming Monday evening’s event.

“There are lessons we can learn and we can learn those on November 5th at Goodwood at the Carriage House from Tim and Raimey, Ms. Norma’s son and daughter-in-law who will also have their standard poodle ‘Ringo’ with them, who was Ms. Norma’s sidekick on that adventure that they took around the country.”

And if you need even more reason to celebrate, Monday night’s event is free.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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