Because my mom and dad got divorced and remarried when my brother and I were young, we had four parental figures growing up.
Genie是一个带有在Peggy Lee和Rosemary Clooney-Smoky和Witty和Witty和Intinuating的歌词，而不是卑鄙的歌手;不是电影中的铁女士或Diva或Femme tafale，而是没有说话的最好的朋友，她的眼睛闪闪发光。出生于密苏里州的圣路易斯，并在布法罗长达19岁时，1951年的Genie搬到了达拉斯，她的前两个丈夫有五个孩子，然后在1986年娶了我的爸爸戴夫Zoller，并收购了两个孩子，我的兄弟和我自己。她是一名敬业的联盟妇女，担任达拉斯/英尺的秘书/财务主管。值得职业音乐家的协会当地72-147，直到1999年退休。
"Darlin," she'd start half her sentences. "Darlin'“
"Darlin', listen to me."
“哦，亲爱的 - 你现在要做什么？”
Whenever I'd introduce Genie to my friends, I'd say, "This is my stepmother, Genie," and she'd clarify: "Wicked.Wicked后妈！”
But Genie was as far from wicked as a person could get.
She and Dad were a great team. He produced and arranged and conducted her solo albums as a vocalist. My favorite of these is "Love Me Like I Am," the cover for which (pictured at the top of this article) sums up Genie's energy. I love that she's wearing what she'd wear to a backyard barbecue. She's not putting on airs. She's not glammed-up. She's not selling anything. She's just Genie. The image is a joke on the seductive "girl singer" photo (as Genie would describe it) and yet, at the same time, sincere: "Damn right I'm fabulous! Justlookat me!"
Genie是如何成为一个敏感，关怀，但不干扰的成年人 - 那种孩子最终从看到作为权威人物的那种人，而是将作为珍贵的朋友和探测牌视为。当我的父亲，钢琴家和作曲家Dave Zoller去年在78年去世时，我们之间没有任何东西没有说明。这是我与另一个不是我孩子之一的家庭成员的积极关系。我有精致的感谢，因为，as I wrote in this piece about dad, she figured out how to repair the estrangement that had been growing throughout my childhood and adolescence.
Some of it was his fault. By Dad's admission, he was a guy who probably shouldn't have had kids when he had them. He was a young man committed to his art. He didn't have space for much else.
But truth be told, a lot of the angst came from anti-daddy propaganda, fed to me and my younger brother Jeremy by our mother and stepfather for years and years on end. Mom and Bill cultivated an "us against the world" energy that transformed our home, a bungalow near Love Field Airport in Dallas, into a cult compound consisting of four people, plus pets.
我的母亲Bettye，一位歌手，女演员和语音老师，有各种各样的问题。As Genie once put it, Mom's issues had issues. Mom's second husband, Bill Seitz, was the perfect match for her, and I don't' mean that as a compliment. They amplified each other's most drastic melodramatic and dysfunctional traits. Of course they were madly in love, never more so than when a third party was coming after them seeking redress for some (usually valid) offense, or taking issue with some aspect of their strange and sometimes frightening behavior.
有一天我可能需要写一部关于e day in 2005 when Mom and Bill had a drunken confrontation at a Mexican restaurant and Mom locked Bill out of their house. My brother and stepbrother tried to broker a detente. They behaved like adversaries in a preliminary divorce hearing until we broached the subject of the two of them going into rehab for alcohol abuse, at which point they sat next to each other in a tight two-seater couch and started finishing each other's sentences.
所有这些事情都是真的，但并不差不多到我们被引导的范围。我后来发现，她最令人羞耻和经常反复的故事，关于爸爸 - 他是如何欺骗她的，而且他与金钱如此无能，她会给他现金去市中心并支付电费，他会支付电费两个小时后回来，用一个装满新专辑的箱子 - 是妈妈所做的事情。（在妈妈去世前几个月，我们在养老院谈论，她脱掉了，“他睡了一个搬家了。”我说，“爸爸告诉我，直到你走向你的几年在他身上，“她笑了说，”好吧，是真的！“）
We were also told, on more than one occasion, that Dad wasn't wired right, that he wasn't capable of love, that there was something wrong with him that prevented him from being a good dad, and that was why he wasn't around much. With the fullness of hindsight, I now know that things were considerably more complicated than that—and that, like those tales of Dad cheating on Mom, and blowing utility money on vinyl records, there was a lot of projecting going on.
I got my first gray hairs at 12. By 16, I had salt-and-pepper hair, and was going white at the temples.
Dad got drunk at the bar.
Not long after that, Genie called me and said, in so many words, that she was tired of Dad and me not getting along when it was obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that we'd be "thick as thieves" if we could just talk to one another honestly.
I was taken back to be addressed so intimately. I didn't have much experience around Genie. Jeremy had started spending time over there a couple of years earlier, when I was at college and he was still in high school, but neither of us had logged a lot of time in their house because it wasn't that kind of parent-child relationship. I liked Genie a lot from the very beginning, even though I didn't really know her that well, because of how Dad acted once they got together. Dad was a ladies' man who had a lot of girlfriends, one after the other, in quick succession. He wasn't a cad or a wolf. He was just good-looking and talented and single and a jazz musician. It was the '70s. He owned a waterbed. Dad met Genie in 1978 and they became exclusive not long after that because Genie told him she didn't want to share him with anyone else.
What she couldn't see, or recognize, was that Genie was a healer. She went about her life trying to make things better. Day by day. Person by person. Problem by problem.
There was a distance between Dad and Genie and Jeremy and me that had not yet been closed. Genie's call to me that day made it clear that she intended to close it.
And so Dad and I met in a public park in Dallas. Neutral territory.
He told me, "You didn't have to cut my balls off in public."
Things got messier from there.
But by the end of the afternoon, we were talking again. I mean really说。
Genie invited me and Jeremy over for dinners and lunches and weekend visits. We became such regular presences at the house that we began apportioning holidays into sections of the day, to make sure that we gave Dad and Genie a few hours instead of letting Bill and Mom have the lion's share. This pissed them off. They felt neglected and perhaps betrayed in some way. Who were these interlopers, , taking away their family time with their boys? Where had they been all those years, etc. etc. (Jeremy and I knew the truth now—and so do you).
When I was a freshman in college, I self-published a collection of three short stories. The third, "Clay,' was set in 1975. It was about a boy who lost his father in Vietnam and seemed to have somehow inherited his father's rage and PTSD. When another boy comes to him for defense against bullies, he doesn't just beat them up, he stabs one of them in the stomach with a switchblade and cuts off two of his fingers. Genie called me up after she read it. She said she was worried about me. I said, "Genie, I'm not gonna go postal, don't worry. It's a fantasy."
这是当我开始和她说话,爸爸abo血型ut what was really going on in Mom and Bill's house, with the drinking, the thrown objects, the beatings, and Bill fetishizing guns and shooting them off inside the house.
Again, this is all messy stuff. There are no easy answers in situations like this. The point of my sharing it is by way of insisting that, in the end, I believe it's better for families to have the full stories about each other than live with lies, half-truths, evasions and omissions.
Genie taught me that.
Genie was—and I don't use this word lightly, because so many self-serving narcissistic charlatans claim it, and devalue it— an empath. Truly an empath. She could sense stirrings in the Force, so to speak. There were times when my brother or I were upset about something—"girl problems," a lost opportunity, a professional setback, you name it—and we'd get a call out of the blue from Genie, just wanting to see how we were doing. She always seemed to call at the precise moment that we needed someone to talk to.
当我们到达房子时，爸爸在一个小型锻铁桌上坐在后院，在一个小型锻铁桌上，喝冰茶并读纽约时代。Clearly he wanted to make sure that whatever was about to happen didn't happen in the house. Genie later said it was as if Dad was trying to lure Godzilla out to sea, so that he couldn't flatten Tokyo.
Mom, who was still snockered from lunch and had somehow convinced the bartender to give her one more margarita in a plastic "To Go" cup, stumbled through the front door, breezed past Genie and her tiny yapping dogs, made a beeline for Dad in the backyard, plopped down across from him, and cranked the flirting dial up to 11. Genie and I and Jen watched through the glass patio doors.
“我得到了一个小猪小姐and Kermit feeling here," said Jen, watching Mom gesticulating and fidgeting and throwing her head back to roar at statements my Dad made that were almost certainly not intended as jokes.
"Does it ever bother you that Mom is still in love with Dad and falls all over him in situations like this?" I asked.
“哦，天哪，”Genie说。“他对她感到尴尬。他不会做任何事情。我觉得这是一个叫醒。看着这个 - 她会去膝盖。”
My fondest memories of Genie are of her and Dad performing together at jazz clubs around Dallas. They had a marvelous chemistry. They'd pretend to bicker and needle each other, but they were self-deprecating as well, carefully setting up moments where each could profess sincere affection for the other.
It was one of the most devastating deaths I've witnessed, and by this point I've witnessed plenty. There's something particularly unnerving about seeing a woman who was known for being hearty and full of life being physically reduced, denuded of her essence, evaporated, week after week, month after month.
At the end, she was barely recognizable as herself—as frail as my maternal grandmother, who died of bone cancer in 1985.
Genie's death brought my father and I even closer together, because we'd both lost mates in April, two days apart. Jen's death had occurred on April 27, three years before Genie.
I think about those final days often, especially when April rolls around.
You can let go now, Mama。
Dad thought so, too.