When I was in third grade I went to Mother’s bookcase to select more mature reading because I had exhausted all of my interests at the school and public library. Erma Bombeck? The titles sounded fun and the cover’s artwork looked interesting.
I began reading Ms. Bombeck’s JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE CHILDREN OF YOUR OWN, followed by I LOST EVERYTHING IN THE POSTNATAL DEPRESSION.
My third-grade teacher, Mary Hennegan, was not impressed that I was reading such racy material. However, the following year I returned to Washington Elementary School and my fourth-grade teacher, Diana Lane, loved that I was not only reading more advanced literature but encouraged me to continue doing so.
And, I did.
At a young age, I fell in love with Bombeck and even rose early through the week to watch her on a morning talk show before heading to school. I don’t know what it was but I clicked with the lady’s sense of humor and personality.
Through junior high, high school and college I continued reading Ms. Bombeck’s work.
In 1990 I moved to the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio and while driving near downtown I spied a street sign designating it would soon be named Erma Bombeck Way.
Ahhh! A friend told me Ms. Bombeck was born in nearby Bellbrook, went to The University of Dayton, lived on Kushwa Drive in Centerville, and had moved to Arizona with her husband, Bill. Many friends had known her or met her and I even had a student whose grandparents had been neighbors with the Bombecks and another celebrity, Phil Donahue.
I was in heaven.
At age 20 Ms. Bombeck was diagnosed an untreatable and incurable genetic kidney disease. Through the years she beat breast cancer, went through a mastectomy and continued dialysis for her kidney disease. After finally going through her kidney transplant Erma Bombeck died April 22, 1996, age 69.
Near the entrance of Woodland Cemetery, just north of The University of Dayton, a large boulder sits near the road beneath a beautiful share tree. The boulder is only partly seen as most of it is beneath the ground to maintain its balance.
Ms. Bombeck’s cremains is interred behind the rock.
I remember seeing news coverage of the semi transporting the rock. It was a significant part of her Arizona years, her final years, where she loved to sit and write.
Just a few yards away, as seen in the second photograph, there’s a memorial tribute celebrating the Wright Brothers.
When I visit Woodland to pay respects to the Wright family, I like to sit on the rock to write something, anything. The Bombeck family hoped UD students and others would also take inspiration from Erma’s writing rock.
And, I do.
Thank you, Erma Bombeck.