Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ode to Erma

This morning I was big and brave enough to start cleaning out a drawer (the biggest and messiest) in my desk.  It was a terrible jumbled mess of "stuff," and I found some miscellaneous file folders on the bottom of the heap.  While doing a quick, preliminary look through one of the folders, I found a sheet titled If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck.  (I think I originally got this from you, J.  Thank you again.)

Many of you are too young to remember this wonderful lady.  She was a humorist, writer, columnist and journalist who wrote several books.  She managed to find humor in the everyday experiences of being a wife and mother.  Her serious side led her to be a strong advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment for women.

Her career took off in the mid-1960s during which time she gave voice to many suburban housewives.  She was a talented writer who could make you laugh and cry at the same time.  Her popularity continued until her death in 1996 when she died from complications of an incurable, untreatable genetic kidney disease.

Here is the writing of her's I found today.  It's a piece she wrote very near the end of her life.

If I Had My Life To Live Over

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 have burned the pink candle 
 sculpted like a rose before it
melted in storage.

I would have talked less
and listened more.

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 much less about
the dirt when someone wanted
to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time
to listen to my grandfather
ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the
responsibility carried by my husband.

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 sat on the lawn
with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less
while watching television
and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything 
just because it was practical, wouldn't show
soil, or was guaranteed
to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, 
I'd have cherished every moment
and realized that the wonderment
growing inside me was the only
chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously,
I would never have said, "Later.  Now go get
washed up for dinner."  There would
have been more "I love you's" and
more "I'm sorry's."

But mostly, given another shot at life, 
I would seize every minute, look at it and
really see it.  Live it and never give it back.

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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

 How many of these sentiments can you directly relate to?  Dear Erma had a good handle on how life should be lived, didn't she?  


Lynda said...

As a young mother and wife, Erma made me feel like I was doing ok. I cried when she passed a way...such a loss.

a8383 said...

That is just as beautiful as it was years ago. Lynda I cried too. She got us gals. Angela

DFW said...

Hey Mama Pea,

That exact poem is in my "when I die file". She spoke directly from her heart. I think this poem speaks volumns about life in general & should be read at every funeral.What a way she had with words.

Mama Pea said...

Lynda - I felt the same way when I was first starting out on marriage and motherhood. She was my idol in many ways.

Mama Pea said...

Angela - Erma "got us" and was able to put it into words that truly did make us laugh and cry. A great lady.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Yes, appropriate to be read at every funeral . . . but some good reminders for us to live by this very day!

Laurie said...

I can certainly learn a thing or two from Erma's poem. Thank you for sharing it. I remember her, unfortunately I did not read many of her columns.

Charade said...

I have a copy of this same essay in my files, and I, too, cried when she died. Somewhere in those same files, I have a copy of her husband's eulogy spoken at her funeral, and it still makes me cry all over again. I think she touched all of us who were around in that period. Thanks for the reminder.

Carolyn said...

What a great post! And it is you who first introduced me to the name "Erma Bombeck". I even picked up one of her books just last week at the library sale! I haven't picked it up to read it yet, but I'll put it on my night stand right now to remind me.

Kristina said...

Great poem. I think I have a few of her books too, handed down from Mom.

Joy said...

This is beautiful, and important. Thanks so much for posting this today!

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - You might enjoy checking out one of her books from the library. Even though written many years ago, the contents will resonate with you today.

Mama Pea said...

Charade - Oh, I would love to read the eulogy her husband gave. Maybe I can find it online. Thanks for mentioning it.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - You know you've always reminded me of her. Perhaps a little more brazen and "out there" (meant in the most loving way possible!) but you definitely have some of the same genes.

I'm going to get and reread one or more of her books, for sure.

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Yep, your mom and I would be of the same era so it would be logical she'd have read and enjoyed Erma.

Mama Pea said...

Joy - I've read it over several times hoping the wisdom of her words will sink in! You're very welcome.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I used to really look forward to reading Erma Bombeck's column in the newspaper. I think I'm going to print the above sentiment out and frame it.

odiie said...

I love Erma Bombeck's stuff. Thank you. I've been pretty much the opposite of this writing this morning. Time to start over.

Mama Pea said...

Jen - Wouldn't hurt for all of us to have that in a visible place in front of us, would it? :o}

Mama Pea said...

odiie - Oh, a big, warm hug to you this morning, m'dear! It's good (in a perverse sort of way) to know there are others who are not "perfect." There are definitely times when we need a reminder to change our wicked ( ;o} ) ways a bit and appreciate all the wonderful things we have in our lives.

Susan said...

I loved Erma - a writer who could hit the nail on the head (so to speak) every single time. Good sense and a good sense of humor.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Have you ever noticed how points can be made (whether oral or written) more easily when using humor? Must be something about dry, logical (boring?) reasoning that our senses object to. I say we need more smiles, laughter and joy in our lives! Hooray for all the Ermas out there (that includes you, my friend) who always maintain that sense of humor!

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Erma Bombeck......loved her writings (I hesitate saying this because I age myself, lol).

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - I know what you mean, but remember we're only as old as we feel. I choose to feel much younger than I am!! :o}

Anonymous said...

Erma was great and such a wise woman too. Her piece that you shared reminded me of what my grandma would say, "Don't wish your life away by being in a hurry". I find her words, and now Erma's, echoing in my head as I am dealing with the challenges of a very young puppy. Therefore I am "enjoying" every present moment of his antics and accidents!-M

Lisa said...

This is a wonderful piece and ought to be reviewed annually.... so keep one one's priorities on track. Loved Erma Brombeck! Back in the mid-1970s, I worked in the library part-time as my 'teenage' job..... and remember her books were always SO popular. It was such fun to shelve those as even the titles were humorous. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

Mama Pea said...

M - In today's world, sometimes (most of the time?) it's a real challenge to not be in a hurry! We need to fight against the need to be so and, as you say, learn to enjoy the present moment!

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - After writing this post, I looked for a book or two of hers in our local library . . . and found they had none. I thought that was strange. But I can order them from our very good library system and plan to do so. Here's to life being a bowl of cherries! ;o)