Erma Bombeck

by | Jun 12, 1997 | Attitude, Joy, Trials

She was a homemaker who became a nationally known author, speaker, and syndicated columnist. Among her bestsellers were The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home. Some of her humor could make even cynics laugh hysterically.

A woman who could write that way must have had an easy life, huh? All she had to do was think up jokes, write them down, and collect her royalties, right? Wrong. Bad wrong!

Erma Bombeck’s father died when she was only nine years old. At 20 she was found to have a hereditary kidney disorder that would eventually lead to kidney failure. (Two of her three children have inherited the problem.) In 1991 she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. In 1993 she started four-times-a-day peritoneal dialysis until a kidney transplant April 4. Complications from the transplant took her life last Monday.

When fans wrote to say, “Things like this shouldn’t happen to you,” she had an answer. “Why not me?” She said. “I had a good long ride with it. I have written all these books with kidney problems. … It doesn’t affect your brain. It doesn’t affect your sense of humor.”

I suspect her sense of humor was a coping device. It helped her deal with her pain. It kept her from getting brittle and grumpy. It helped her live 69 years in a positive rather than negative way, with joy rather than self-pity.

People who succeed with life tend to have a great sense of humor. It gets them through the tough times. Remember when Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981? “Honey, I forgot to duck,” he told Nancy at the hospital. To the surgeons about to operate on him, he said, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.”

A sense of humor is great therapy when you hit a bump in the road — and everybody’s road has some bumps. As Erma Bombeck put it, “There is something about getting on with your life.” She might have added — with a smile whenever you can manage it.

Rubel Shelly The FAX of Life


Erma Bombeck