Tuesday, February 21, 2017

HAPPY B-DAY, AUNTIE ERMA!

I knew who Erma Bombeck was by th’ time I was 9, and I was reading her columns by th’ time I was 12.  A great deal of her humour, which was typically about modern suburban life, family and relationships, went over my head as a child, but what I chiefly remember was my mom’s laughter whenever she read what “Aunt Erma” had written. 

Mom liked a good laugh, but she rarely laughed right out loud when she was reading, except if what she was reading was Bombeck; then she would just *howl* with laughter and often have to reach for a tissue to blot her eyes.  As a kid, I was inspired:  *I* wanted to write like Aunt Erma; *I* wanted to put words down that would make people laugh right out loud or stop and think deeply about the little-but-terribly-important things in life (which was what her Sunday columns were about).  If I AM a writer, I am one because Erma Bombeck inspired me to become one (and later, authors like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Richard Brautigan and Haruki Murakami, continued to inspire me to scribble away).

Mom died suddenly and wholly unexpectedly of cardiac complications on th’ night of March 5th, 1996, a mind-bogglingly 21 years ago this year.  Auntie Erma crossed o’er that same year on April 22nd, just a week past Mom’s birthday.  I remember taking it rather personally, a little bit like I’d lost a close friend right on th’ heels of mom leaving this life, and I remember spending th’ next year reading everything Bombeck had published.

I like imagine that th’ two of them get together e’ery year roundabout this time in a little café in Heaven where there’s an outdoor porch and a lovely view, and spring is just arriving in all its lovely splendor.  I imagine they sit and swap stories over coffee cake, and the both of them just laugh and laugh and laugh.  

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