#138 My Writing, and Erma Bombeck

I’ve been told by someone who reads every one of my posts that I’ve been running all of my sentences together, and she’s right… I have. But I didn’t realize that I was doing that until she said something, so I wanted to make sure that she knew that I appreciate the constructive criticism. I’ll try to explain why I do that, as well as trying to learn how to write better posts in the future.


When I was a freshmen in high school I remember going the first day to a new school, I was picked on so badly that in-between classes I finally just walked off campus and never did go back. I was taken to juvie where I lived for most of the next year because I kept running away every time they tried to send me home. I wasn’t abused in any way and I had a great family. The problem was all mine. I don’t really know why I kept getting in trouble, but I did. The next year I started getting sick and was taken from juvie to a county hospital where I was told that I had bone cancer in my right knee. They also said that I was going to die, and they had nothing to give me to make me any better. They called my parents and told them the same thing over the phone.

Luckily, my mother isn’t one to just sit by when things go wrong. She’s more like me when it comes to my kids needing my help. Maybe I should say I’m more like her. She took me to a children’s hospital and a year and a half, four chemo drugs and one leg amputation later I was doing much better. My mother did make the school send me a tutor a few days a week, but it was so easy for me to make her feel bad for trying to get me to do any work that I managed to wiggle out of any kind of education. All I had to do was tell her that my leg was hurting and she would get up and leave, but she did always leave me homework to do if I was felling up to it. I’m not proud of what I did. I know I should have listened to her, and if I could go back and do it over again I would do so many things differently. I screwed myself out of any real education…and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.


What’s ironic is that even back then I wrote all the time. I wrote short stories and poems and loved reading them to my dad. I remember reading a story that Erma Bombeck had written, and I decided to write one of my own that was definitely in her writing style. I think I still do that sometimes without noticing that I’m doing it. I haven’t read anything of her’s in more than twenty-five years I think. My father was sure that the style matched Erma Bombeck, and that I must have copied it from something that she had written. I had to go get the story that I had read, and give it to him, explained what I did and that it was my work. I was only looking for a writing style that I could use. I had no interest in taking credit for someone else’s work. He finally agreed that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and told me to keep writing whatever made me happy. And I did.


During the time when I was just barely finished with chemo my parents started taking me on trips. The Make-A-Wish foundation let me take my whole family to Hawaii for ten days on two different islands, we went to Disney Land in California, and I was sent to camp with the other ‘cancer kids’ at some point in-between. I had gone to Camp Rainbow the previous year, so when it came time to go again I was asked to be a Jr councilor. I think I was about sixteen years old at that time. I wasn’t told that we would have a guest there doing research for a book until we were unpacking our things in our cabins. We were asked to be very open and honest with this person and if we were uncomfortable with any of the questions we were asked we didn’t have to answer them. Most of us spoke very openly and honestly. You’ll never believe who our guest was…or maybe you will.




I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise (Children Surviving Cancer): Written by, my now friend, Erma Bombeck. I remember seeing her sitting outside the dining hall looking lost. They had us do things at camp like line up by group and sit at assigned tables, and we had to sing about Johnny Appleseed before every meal. So, I can see how an adult who had never been there would be confused as to where to go for lunch. She did talk to us as a group that afternoon in the lunch room and explained that she wanted to write a book about us. About how we get through everything having to do with being a kid with cancer…she wanted to see how we were able to keep smiling. She met with some of us, me included, in private. She didn’t ask a bunch of ridiculous questions, she just wanted to talk. She wanted to know everything each one of us had to say. What she found out was that most of us were sarcastic and loved to screw with people. Things like pretending to get hurt or telling stupid jokes…nothing funny was out of the question to us, and she picked up on that pretty quickly. She couldn’t believe that almost all of us had a sense of humor about being sick. Even the ones who knew they would die from whatever kind of cancer they had. My name appears on the first few pages along with all the other kids who were there that year. If I remember correctly, she also wrote about when I was asked at lunch if I wanted a leg or a breast when we were being served chicken…I was laughing so hard I don’t think I ever answered that question. I had no clue then that someday I would want both.


So, I still love to write about things in my life, but I never did get any real education having to do with writing because of my own issues. I so wish that I had continued my education. I was very upset when I found out that Erma had died in the 90s… 1996 I think. She was a great lady, and a wonderful writer. I don’t claim to have her talent for writing, only that she helped me find a way to write that made sense to me. Now, if I can only figure out where all the punctuation goes, I’ll be happy.


3 thoughts on “#138 My Writing, and Erma Bombeck

  1. Pingback: breast cancer bone scans

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