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A Tribute to Erma Bombeck 2/21/27 — 4/22/96

  • Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.”
  • “My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
  • “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
  • “Mothers-in-law who wear a black armband to the wedding are expendable.”
  • “The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.”
  • “Ironed Sheets are a health hazard.”
  • “Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.”
  • “Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.”
  • “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'” (my personal favorite)
  • “In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn’t danced on TV.”
  • “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”
  • “Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
  • “Never loan your car to anyone to whom you’ve given birth.”
  • “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.”
  • “A child needs your love more when he deserves it least.”
  • “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
  • “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”
  • “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.”

Every single one of these quotes is from the Original Domestic Goddess, The Mother who started it all.  Without her there would have never been Roseanne Barr, or any number of TV Moms.   Even Chelsea Handler owes a debt of gratitude to the giant that is Erma Bombeck.  Did you know there is an Erma Bombeck Writers’ workshop hosted by her alma mater The University of Dayton?  Check it out here for 2014.

Growing up in suburbia in the 60’s and 70’s my most consistent role models were the teachers and moms I encountered daily.  Sure, I watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show every Saturday night while babysitting, but I did not make the connection that a girl could grow up to be Tina Fey and write comedy.   I did read our local newspaper from cover to cover (marveling at both the  “Women’s News”  and “Help Wanted: Female” sections), and that is where I found Erma.  She was a voice of both reason and humor delivered in the discipline of a newspaper column ( I did imagine your could make a living writing a newspaper column, even though I had no clue how you would get such a job.).  And she gave credibility to stuff  my own mother alluded to about home-making and motherhood.  In a number of ways Aunt Erma did more to raise my consciousness than my neophyte subscription to Ms. magazine ever did, because she made it look like a “regular” person could capture (and legitimize) the feelings of many people.  Her humor and soul made her observations both disarming and spot-on.

So this week I’m celebrating a voice that left us way to soon.  If you are so inclined, please look for any of the following books in either your local library/bookstore/amazon.

  • At Wit’s End, Doubleday, 1967.
  • Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own, Doubleday, 1971. Written with Bil Keane.
  • I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression, Doubleday, 1974.
  • The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, McGraw-Hill, 1976.
  • If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, McGraw-Hill, 1978.
  • Aunt Erma’s Cope Book, McGraw-Hill, 1979.
  • Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, 1983.
  • Family — The Ties that Bind … and Gag!, 1987.
  • I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer, 1989. American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor in 1990.
  • When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home, 1991.
  • A Marriage Made in Heaven … or Too Tired For an Affair, 1993
  • All I Know About Animal Behavior I learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room, HarperCollins 1995
  • Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing From America’s Favorite Humorist

Long live, Erma!

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