On the eve of Mother’s Day, I wanted to give tribute to a fellow writer and Ohio native, who touched millions of people with her unique brand of humor and observations of life as a mom.
Erma Bombeck was born on Feb. 21, 1927 and left us on April 22, 1996 at the age of 69 after undergoing a kidney transplant. In the years between her birth and untimely death, Erma would graduate from the University of Dayton, convert to Catholicism, marry and raise three children. She also devoted herself to the craft of writing – merging her love of words with her observations on life raising her family and being a woman in middle class America.
In 1949, Erma joined the news staff of the Ohio Journal Herald, and married her college sweetheart Bill Bombeck. In 1964, she started her humor column, “At Wit’s End” in the Kettering-Oakwood Times– within a year her column was nationally syndicated, running twice weekly in 500 newspapers.
In addition to her column, Erma wrote for magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, Redbook and McCall’s. She also published 15 books, most of which became best sellers.
Here are a few of my favorite quips and quotes from the great lady herself – enjoy!
“Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.”
“My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.”
“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.”
“I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.”
“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
“Shopping is a woman thing. It’s a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.”
And, from her May 12, 1974, Mother’s Day column:
When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”
And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?
• She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
• Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
• Run on black coffee and leftovers;
• Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
• A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
• And six pairs of hands.”
The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”
“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”
“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”
“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”
“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”
The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.
“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”
“Can it think?”
“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”
“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”
“What’s it for?”
“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”
“You are a genius,” said the angel.
The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.
Read about Erma’s life at http://www.ermamuseum.org/.