Surely Erma is -in her own way- resting in peace. But I believe that means she’s yucking it up in heaven. In the event all her talent wasn’t spent here on earth, she’s probably using it still, causing the celestial beings to double over in laughter, then in the next moment, pause, and shed a tear.
My mother loved Erma’s humor and her books…which could be found on the coffee table, an end table, kitchen counter, buffet, or any other flat surface in our house. And so — I was introduced to Erma. How could I resist a book titled, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? when I was meant to be dusting? And I confess, instead of scrubbing a tub or shining the bathroom sink I’d sit on the floor and page through The Grass is Always Greener Above the Septic Tank. Feel good stuff, entertaining, funny, poignant — packed with wisdom and encouragement. To this day I wish I could write like Erma Bombeck. In lieu of that I’ll settle for reading. I just got Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession from the library. With chapter titles that begin, “What kind of mother would…” followed by things like “tip the tooth fairy?”, and other such nonsense, I wanted to read it again. This one caught my eye and my heart: “What kind of mother would… die and not take you with her?”
So in honor of her birthday, and she died way too young you know, I’ll take the day off (despite just returning from a week long vacation in Florida!) and I’ll read a little Erma. Okay, I’ll read a lot of Erma and maybe some other stuff too. No shame. No guilt. Because I know Erma would approve. And you know what, so would my mother.
A bit of Erma’s own writing:
Among, her many writings was this column that still continues to make its way around the internet.
“Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.
If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have burned the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.
I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television; and more while watching real life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.
I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical; wouldn’t show soil; or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more I love yous, more I’m sorrys, more I’m listenings, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it, look at it and really see it, try it on, live it, exhaust it, and never give a minute back until there was nothing left of it.”