Gini asked me to visit her at her condo. We talked travel and art. She encouraged that I learn the art of shibori and I discussed the details of apparel. She had many questions regarding my costume/apparel work. She was delighted to show me her workspace, wonderful daughter's gift, wearable pieces in progress and final pieces. Gini insisted that I try on a few pieces…I’m 6’1” wearing M-L. She said that I looked great. I did.
Gini was energy, joy, conversation, a spirited church member. I’m still that she not with us but I’m internally overjoyed that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know the wonderful “Gini Corrick”.
To Gini’s family and friends…sorry for your/our loss.
We are in the parking lot after leaving church. Velcro was a relatively new invention and mom has been experimenting with it. She’s wearing a new skirt using Velcro as a closure. Suddenly, the Velcro gives way and her skirt falls in a heap on the ground. I am mortified…what’s mom going to do? Mom, quietly, steps out of her skirt, folds it over her arm and walks with grace and dignity, in her slip, to the car. I’ve asked myself..why does that memory come up for me? Because in that one gracious movement, my mother showed me at a very young age, to have presence in the face of a challenge, dignity in the face of embarrassment and most importantly, how to get one’s priorities straight…it really was no big deal.
Sidenote…as I was wrestling with writing this tribute to mom, I could hear her say…Rose, this is really no big deal J
In reflecting on mom’s life, I have tried to reconcile the mother I knew growing up, with the Gini that she came to be, especially in the 18 years since moving to Minneapolis after my father passed. The mother I grew up with was remarkable, as you have already heard, and there are lots of stories to tell about her amazingness. Ok…I can’t resist taking a minute to headline just a few of them…like:
Mom, expertly wielding her chainsaw with the Corrick clan after a tornado rips through my brother’s property in northern Minnesota. Note: her chainsaw was her very favorite gift from my dad…now that tells you something, right?
Or…mom, singlehandedly terracing a mammoth back yard project, complete with building an 8 foot retaining wall with railroad ties. She does admit that her son, Patrick, had to show her how to make steps with the railroad ties.
Or..Mom, digging a hole in the ground with a fire, on our camping trips to make the best bean-hole beans and ham ever, buried in the ground overnight.
Or..Mom, going to Japan in her 80’s with Betsy Robinson and renowned shibori instructor, Yoshiko Wada. On a moonlit night, Yoshiko invites Mom to join her bathing naked in an outdoor pool. She would talk about the experience of shedding her clothing and her inhibitions, while basking in the moonlight, as one of the most beautiful and liberating experiences in her life.
Beyond the stories of her adventures, there is the bigger story that happened in the 18 years after she moved to Minneapolis. My mother truly came into her own. She courageously began a new life, she made new friends, she passionately developed her talents as an artist, she gave freely and openly of herself to others, she became a mentor and she never stopped learning. Some would say that they witnessed Gini’s “transformation” over these last 18 years. She became the person that everyone wants to be…how many times have you said or heard: “I want to be like Gini when I grow up?”
Mom and I are in Paris in 2010, on our way to visit my brother, Bob and my sister-in-law, Beth, at their home in France. There are two twin beds in the tiny room, so we push them together. And we talk..mostly about her life. I ask her: “mom, how did you get to be this happy?” And her simple answer is: “honey, I learned to forgive myself.”
It is August 29th, just 3 months before my mom passes. She has been sleeping most of her days and she is in a weakened state. Then, she perks up, hearing about the State Fair, and she wants to go see her friend, Carole’s eco-dyed coat that won first place in her category. And she wants to ride the ferris wheel, eat ice cream and turkey legs. So, she does. She spends 5 glorious hours with her two loving caregivers, Adriene and Barb, seeing Carole’s coat, eating an entire chocolate malt and a gynormous turkey leg, riding the ferris wheel and playing with baby goats. In the car on the way home, she turns to Barb with that Gini smile on her face and says…”isn’t it amazing what the human spirit can do for the body?” Indeed.
The last fiber workshop that I took with mom was in September of 2015, a felting workshop here in Mpls with Andrea Graham. She was 92. There is a photo of her on the slide show in front of her two completed felted pieces, and she is beaming. You can see her glee in the photograph, and that sense of wonder that she had about life. I looked up the word “wonder” and it means: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable. The word is often associated with children, as in “childlike wonder”. But wonder is not exclusive to children. The truth is: children do have it and most of us adults lose it. We all know…my mother didn’t lose her sense of wonder. If she did for a while, she regained it back in full force and took it to a whole new level in the last glorious chapter of her life.
Witnessing how my mother lived her life in her last chapter, and especially in the last year of her life, is her gift to me…her legacy. In her dying, my mother showed me how to live. I mean, how to really live, with a sense of wonder at how beautiful this life really is, if…I choose to see it. So, she leaves me with an invitation, an invitation to let go of my stories…of not having enough time, of not being good enough, of my worries…and to step into the light of wonder and joy and love.
I accept your invitation, Mom. And thanks…so very much.