My Great Grandmother Agatha was a force of nature. As a young mother on Cape Cod, she hunted for fowl in the marsh, one hand on a shot gun with her eldest child securely tucked into her duck bag. For me it is an iconic image.
She brought five boys into the world. Her husband was a wild partying man with only one arm due to a hunting accident as a teenager in the marshland. Hunting for ducks one fine morning he had inadvertently leaned on his loaded shotgun, and as the story is told, his boot caught the trigger and his arm the bullet. It never slowed him down though; he continued to hunt both duck and tail, so to speak. He had a reputation of sorts. Those genes by passed me. However, I like to think I won out with the tough woman genes.
Grandma Agatha was fierce. She not only raised those boys, one of whom was my grandfather, but she also painted, and wrote poetry and articles for the local newspaper. She was an amateur historian who painstakingly traced our genealogy back on the Higgins side. In mid 1620’s Richard Higgins arrived on Cape Cod and along with other local men bought land from the Nauset Indians thus establishing Eastham. He farmed the land and raised a family. After his first wife died, he remarried, left his two eldest sons and moved to New Jersey buying 200+ acres of land. I too made the journey from Cape Cod to New Jersey; apparently it was in my genes.
I also like to think I developed my love of writing from Grandma Agatha. In the season of giving thanks, it seems fitting to remember those whose efforts before us have become our foundation in this life. She is perhaps only a branch of my lineage, but she has influenced me deeply. Grandma Agatha died when I was young, grammar school age. I confess to you I believed she lived on and at that tender age I imagined her still in my life, not only in my genes but in my heart and in spirit.