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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Birthday, Erma Bombeck

Today would have been Erma Bombeck's 86th birthday.  For those of you who are too young to remember her, Erma Bombeck was a Midwestern suburban housewife who wrote a newspaper column chronicling her family life with a wry, yet warm sense of humor. She started with a little column in her neighborhood newspaper and, by the end of her life, her delightful words were published biweekly in 900 newspapers across the country.

Erma Bombeck was a Good Morning America contributor, producer of two television shows, and a participant in the President's Advisory Committee for Women (which actually led to the Equal Rights Amendment).  As if that weren't enough, in all her spare time she authored thirteen books.

Just like her devoted readers, Erma Bombeck's life was chock full of ups and downs.  She fought a congenital kidney disease since the age of 20 and was told she would never be able to have children.  She and her husband adopted a daughter, and a few years later, they were delighted when she gave birth to a son.  Unfortunately, Andrew inherited the kidney disease but successfully received a transplant just last year. Sadly, Erma Bombeck's kidney transplant was unsuccessful, and she died from complications in 1996.

Twice a week, I would read Erma Bombeck's column in The Bridgeport Post.  I was not a Midwestern housewife and yet I could relate to her hilarious family stories which always led to lessons in life.  I cannot recall a time when mid-way through her column, I did not either chuckle or shed the inevitable tear. 

 One of my favorite articles of Erma Bombeck's is titled "If I had my life to do over."  Although I was a mere adolescent the first time I read this, the sentiment has remained buried in my heart, especially after being married and having children.

Thanks to Wikipedia, here are some of Erma Bombeck's famous quotes.

  • "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."

  • "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."

  • "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.'"

  • "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."

  • "I told you I was sick." (She requested this to be her epitaph.)

  • "I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian".

Happy Birthday, Erma Bombeck.  
Thank you for teaching me the lessons of life through your wit.
You are, and always will be, my inspiration. 

In honor of Erma Bombeck's birthday, make

someone laugh today!

Preppy Empty Nester
Preppy Empty Nester

I'm Katie. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am an empty nester meandering through my middle-aged years while entangled in the never-ending process of renovating an antique home on the South Shore of Massachusetts. I love to write about books, movies, TV, celebrities, decorating, and weekend adventures. My favorite writing material is derived from my family: the Mister, my girls, #1 and #2, and my two untrainable, rambunctious pups, Chowdah and Chili.


  1. What a clever post, I loved Erma Bombeck and I hadn't thought of her in a long time. She was a true American legend.

  2. And I do remember Erma Bombeck. What a class act and what a hoot! Thanks for sharing some history on her and sharing some of her great wit. Nice way to start the day. Jane B

  3. Dear Katie,

    Thank you for this post. My mother, who is not well, will love it. I printed it si I can mail it to her.

    She loved Erma and probibly found a kindred spirit being a stay at home mother with five children.

    You made someone happy today....me!

    Warmly, Kathleen

  4. Thank you for reminding me of what an incredible woman she was!! I loved her list, and love her wit, kindness and outlook on life. Her legacy I am sure will continue to live on as she was the ultimate example of combining grace, humility with a wicked sense of humor! Thanks for this....


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