Life Family and the Pursuit of Sanity

or… adventures in infertility and babies and family drama!

Antogonish pt 2 November 5, 2009

Filed under: Infertility,Miscarriage — arminta @ 1:00 am

So, after yesterdays post, I was still feeling a little wistful and decided to look up the meaning of the word “Antigonish.” As it should so happen, this word is most famous for being the title of a poem. But, it also the name of a Canadian town and county. The county got it’s name from the indigenous people of the area, the Mi’kmaq tribe of the First Nations. In their language, Nalegitkoonecht, Antigonish means “where branches are torn off.” This is in reference to bears tearing the branches from beech trees to get the beech nuts. I’m guessing Mearns was aware of this when he wrote the poem. Because it fits so perfectly.


That really resonates with me. I don’t think I’d have ever thought of that on my own, but it makes perfect sense. A mother who’s lost her children is like a tree who’s lost her branches. That place that’s left, where the branch used to be, and should be growing still. That’s antigonish. Another branch will never grow there. The branch didn’t whither and die because there was something wrong with it, it was ripped away and the mama tree wasn’t strong enough to hold on to it. That’s antigonish. There may be more branches in the future, and they may grow big and strong and never get ripped away, but they won’t replace the ones that were lost. That’s antigonish. A trees branches feed the mother tree by bringing her sunlight and giving her energy, and when her branches a ripped away, the mother tree fades and has to grow deeper roots for support to stay alive. That’s antigonish. I’m antigonish.


I really love this word. The meaning and the origin are just really speaking to me right now. You’d never know it from looking at my lily white ass, but I am 1/8 Chiwah (Chee-wah). The Chiwah tribe is part of the Cherokee nation. My Gran passed down stories of how our ancestors lied on the 1835 census to avoid the removal which became the trail of tears, and she would take us to see our family that still lived near the tribes original site so that we could hear the stories and eat the food and not lose that part of our heritage. That is something that I was looking forward to passing on to my children. Something that was just from me, and special because of my Gran. So, even though they aren’t Cherokee roots, I like that the word that has taken such a deep hold on me has Native American roots. It makes it feel even more like home or owenvsv (oh-way-nah-suh).


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Today I’m thankful for a grandmother who went out of her way to share roots that were not her own with her grandchildren. She didn’t have to take us to her ex-husbands family for our cultural lessons, but she felt that it was important to us so she did. She didn’t have to contact them to try to get us ligitmized into the tribe (which never happened), but she knew it had the potential to help us one day, so she did. She was a strong matriarch that gave her all to her family. She taught us to love and be generous. She also taught us to hold her smoke in case Paps came out to the porch 🙂 Apparently smoking children were better than a smoking Granny? I’m proud that she was mine. I’m proud that I look like her. I’m thankful I am hers.


One Response to “Antogonish pt 2”

  1. Katie Says:

    What an amazing meaning. That gives me chills. The word itself evokes other images for me. Agony. Anguish.

    What a beautiful thing to be thankful for.

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