I have always appreciated women comics. Betty White, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, to name a few. I don’t keep up with the newest ones, but I laugh when I hear them. The last few weeks I have felt the need for one of my first woman comic writers—Erma Bombeck.
She had a way of expressing simple, every day life. Erma published more than 4000 newspaper columns and 15 books. When I started reading her in the Sioux City Journal, I was a teenager. I didn’t always get what she said about raising children at the time, but now I think she nailed my childhood and those of my peers perfectly.
Here are some quotes from her:
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
Given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it… live it…and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.
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Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.
Cats invented self esteem.
No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.
My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
Success is outliving your failures
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.
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’.
A number of years ago I went on my first women’s retreat with my church. I knew one or two people there fairly well, but most hardly at all. I sat next to one of the women who always looked perfect. We were sharing pieces that we liked and she brought this one from Erma Bombeck.
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
“Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”
“Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia.”
“Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew.”
Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one God? She’s so happy.”
“Exactly,” smiles God, “Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But has she patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she’ll handle it.”
“I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”
God smiles, “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect – she has just enough selfishness.”
The angel gasps – “selfishness? is that a virtue?”
God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a ‘spoken word'”. She will never consider a “step” ordinary. When her child says ‘Momma’ for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!”
“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see…ignorance, cruelty, prejudice….and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side”.
“And what about her Patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles, “A mirror will suffice.” Erma Bombeck
At the time I thought it was a clever and humorous piece. Then a few years down the road I met the woman’s daughter and realized that Erma had nailed it. Perfectly.