Erma Ted

These characters are Rex Walls’ mother and father. They lived in Welch, West Virginia. Erma is a racist, ignorant, envious woman who sexually abuses Brian and may have provoked her own son as well. "An old woman who's had a tough life." Erma did not like when children called her “Grandma,” because it makes her sound old.

Erma is cold and bitter, and her kids grow up to dislike her. Dislike turns to hate when Jeannette finds her touching Brian.

But Rose asks the kids to have more empathy towards her since she had a difficult childhood being shuttled around between various relatives, as Erma’s parents had died when she was young.  She had been moved to one relative after another who had treated her like a servant. Scrubbing clothes on a washboard until her knuckles bled - that was the preeminent memory of grandma`s childhood.

Erma died during at the end of our second winter in Welch because of drinking. She had written detailed instructions on how she wanted her funeral conducted.

Ted looked fragile, with short white hair that stood straight up and ruddy-faced man. His voice was so mumbly. Ted worked as a clerk on the railway. He wore a red-and-black-plaid coat but had no shirt on underneath it.

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Erma Ted in the Essays