Tea w/Leota – St Mary Catholic Cemetery

Filter by

 

FEBRUARY 11, 2020

On November 25, 2019 I went to an antique shop in my town. I found a tea cup. The cup I had purchased had a beautiful design of a colorful pentagram on the cup and saucer, I wanted to know what it was for. The Order Of The Eastern Star, apparently. The Order Of The Eastern Star was created by Rob Morris in 1850 at the Eureka Masonic College as a group that engages in charity work. Neat! Well it is about this time I notice a name at the bottom of the cup (I will change last names for their families privacy) Leota Chair! I think to my nosey self, “Well, I do have access to my moms ancestry.com account…” and start searching. I find that this was one of many last names she has. I get caught up in a feeling of connection to this stranger. I find out she died that summer only a few months ago. I find her obituary where they describe her as my friends and family describe me. I suddenly feel this beautiful bond with this feisty, interesting old woman. On November 26, 2019 I go to the cemetery where she is buried. A groundskeeper asks me if I need help. I say yes. He drives me to the office on the grounds to help find the grave. She is buried with her first husband under her first married name. I talk to 3 people while trying to tip toe around stating my relation. I am someone with a lot of social anxiety, this whole experience felt surreal, “why am I doing this???” type sh**. We find their grave. I had a thermos with tea, and her cup & saucer in my purse. I sat there and poured a cup of tea and watched out the corner of my eye as the lawn mower went by, feeling like fraud or paranoid that her kid will come by or something. It was powerful and pure once I let my anxieties down and just sat there and hung out. I poured a cup for her. No spookies. No ghosts or ghouls. Just pure human connection.
On February 11, 2020 I am on a trip. I have driven up to northern Californian coast to visit my cousin in Eureka. He has school that morning so I drive around finding places to walk my dogs and take pictures. I’m driving through this BEAUTIFUL little town called Ferndale. I drive around aimlessly. I come across a beautiful cemetery up on the side of a hill, overlooking farmland and town, with a big abandoned barn filled with flowers and weeds. I take pictures of the barn and make my way across the road to the cemetery. They have those big family plots and tombs in stone since the area is hillside and coastal and likely prone to flooding. It is beautiful. I walk up to the family plots up front and seriously almost pass out from shock. My knees are TREMBLING, feel like jello. I’m in a town I didnt know existed, in a state I have only lived in for 2 years, this is only my 2nd time in NorCal, I don’t have family here beyond the cousin who moved up a few months ago for school. I know this family plot. Rewind now to November 25, 2019. When I was searching Leotas records to verify her maiden name with her married names. I came across a family with her maiden name who lived in a neighboring town to Eureka around the same time she had (she had lived there for a couple years.) Leota was a woman who moved around a lot and had a few husbands, so I wanted to make sure I had the right obituary and everything checked out before I accidentally disrespected some other dead family of the same name. So I had accidentally read through a census record for this family thinking it may have been hers. Since it was a census document it listed all of their names. I never would have recalled this fact on my own, but since it was a family plot with all the names there, I was able to figure out why I was feeling that horrible sense of déjà vu almost instantly upon reading the tombstones. 2 fun facts I will add that are also weird that I found while verifying the names again and digging a little deeper on the family I chanced upon: 1. The mom dies December 14 and the daughter October 16. My moms birthday is december 12 and mine is October 14. 2. The towns north and south east of Ferndale are Loleta and Alton. Alton was the name of the husband she had the last name of on my cup, Loleta looks like kinda like Leota, sure, but one of the two founding companies of the town according to a wikipedia check was the Atchinson, Topeka and Sante Fe railway, Leonas obituary says she was from Atchinson.

Submitted by Nina A