She wrote a total of fifteen books, the majority of which were bestsellers. But, she was perhaps best known for having written over 4,000 newspaper columns. At their peak in the 1970s, thirty million readers followed her twice-weekly columns in over of the nine hundred newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.
Her style of humor is best reflected in her witticisms. Here are a few of her gems:
"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."
"If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."
"I consider ironed sheets a health hazard."
"I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian."
"In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn't danced on TV."
""Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."
"The grass is always greener over the septic tank."
She also had the ability to speak in ways that were not designed to convey humor so much as to convey truth. Her works are sprinkled with little pithy proverbs that remind us all of certain basic truths. Again, here are a few examples:
"If you can laugh at it, you can live with it."
"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."
"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.'"
One particular piece she wrote has special relevance for this time of year. She once wrote a list of New Year’s Resolutions:
1. I'm going to clean this dump just as soon as the kids grow up.
2. I will go to no doctor whose office plants have died.
3. I'm going to follow my husband's suggestion to put a little excitement into my life by living within our budget.
4. I'm going to apply for a hardship scholarship to Weight Watchers.
5. I will never loan my car to anyone I have given birth to.
As usual, these all reflect her chosen style of witty, even sarcastic humor. But the last one on her list carries the most punch.
6. And just like last year...I am going to remember that my children need love the most when they deserve it the least.
I love the way she ended this list. Anyone who has children can certainly relate. My strong suspicion, however, is that all it takes to appreciate this is having been a child oneself. In my own case, there were many times in my childhood when I needed grace from my parents more than anything else. Thankfully, that was exactly what I got.
The fact that this has been true in my relationship with my earthly parents is significant. But even more significantly, I am glad that it has also been true in my spiritual life! Adam and Eve were our parents; but they were also God’s children. When they rejected their Heavenly Father in Genesis 3, they deserved punishment. But inexplicably, they were given grace instead. And that Grace has been given to each of us in turn.
In short, God did for all of us as His children just exactly what Ms. Bombeck desired to do for her children: He recognized that we needed love the most when we deserved it the least. And He gave the greatest expression of that love to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who in turn gave His life on a cross that we might receive, not the death we deserve, but rather eternal life.
As the Apostle John says (in 3:16-18),
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Praise God! For He gave us just what we needed, not at all what we deserved!
SOURCE: Erma Bombeck quotes are available on numerous sites on the web. Her books are also still in pint. My particular source is: William J. Bausch's book titled A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories That Move and Challenge (Dublin: The Columba Press, 1998), p. 367.