by Edward Alan Conroy Sr.

Aunt Erma, who was actually my Great-Aunt was a delightful person. Many times she baby-sat me which was a real treat because seldom did one meet such a joyful person who loved life and children as much as she did. Aunt Erma was the joker in the family and always had a funny joke to tell at family functions. She was still alive when I was a teenager and old enough to really appreciate her very sharp wit.

Erma had rescued Pearl from certain death in the Southwest United States. At the time, Erma was the strong one in the family and earned good money working for the Telephone Company. But all this ended one day when she returned home from work. She entered her house--which seemed unnaturally still. She called her husband's name but there was no response. She began to look for him. She found him in the bedroom: He had placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The wall behind his body was splattered with blood, and pieces of brain. Those in family said that Erma changed that day and was never totally normal again. Although she lost her job and never again was able to hold a steady job, outwardly, to us children, she was a joyful soul, full of fun and good humor. And she was our favorite baby-sitter.

Great-Aunt Erma was the Mother of my Aunt Garnet who was the Mother of my cousins Robert and Richard Murtagh. She was also the Mother of Vivien who was the Mother of my cousin Sharon. She was also the Mother of Preston who was the Father of many children--most of them older than me. The only one I was friends with was his youngest son, Brice. She was also the Mother of Gerald, my Mother's cousin. She was also the Mother of Ilah, my Aunt who, all my life, has always lived in California. Ilah had two sons, Alan, and Kent.

All of the James offspring were exceptionally bright, pleasant, and clever. However, Erma's offspring was the side of the family that got the most brains while Pearl's offspring and their generations are more average. However, in her later years, Aunt Erma began telling the same joke over and over again--to the same people--sometimes just minutes after telling them that same joke before. At first, everyone attributed her forgetfulness to the shock of her husband's suicide again catching up to her. But before long she was confined to a home for the mentally incompetent and died soon after. In those days, we called this mental defect "senility." However, since that time, other members of her family have also gone down this same mental-road, and we have now learned that this process is a disease called Alzheimer's.