Each spring I gather a few of tiny violets from the place in our yard in which they voluntarily grow.  I float their tiny heads on a bowl of water in a small pink depression ware bowl to honor a grandmother I never knew. The few pieces of depression ware that I have belonged to her. Today I looked for these volunteer flowers that now sit to my left.

My grandmother, Ellen Ora (also called Elnora, Nora, or Norie) Tingle Jones died prior to WWII, prior to my birth. She and my grandfather, Lee B. Jones (Paw to us kids) had five children, now all deceased. There was Fern, the only girl, who married William O. Carpenter and had a son, also William; Lloyd who married Daisy and had a daughter Merle and a son Lee; Earl Ray (Daddy) who married Elsie Rosa Jefferies Jones in England during WWII and had me, Pam and Michael; Walter, who died in the Pacific during WWII; and Robert Chester, who never married. At some point Nora and Lee were divorced, but details concerning that were never clear. Only that Daddy waited until she had died to join the army—the same army that had rejected him earlier.

My grandmother lived in East Joplin at 321 High Street, where my grandfather lived until his death. This was the home in which my father and his siblings grew up—half a block from Junge Stadium where my Dad once gave Babe Ruth a shoulder massage. Sweet Peas grew on the fence that separated Paw’s house from his neighbor. As a child, I loved them.

But today isn’t about Paw or the sweet peas. It’s about the grandmother I never knew. It’s about the women who came before me—women who had to be strong. Women like Nora. Women without whom I wouldn’t exist. Seems like floating violets is the least I can do.