SHE LOVED US ALL

This was the eulogy I gave at Gina Zamparelli’s funeral on June 16, 2018.

Hello. My name is Tracy Wallace and I was Gina Zamparelli’s friend for 32 years.

In 1986, I had a store called L’Attitude that was on Holly Street in Old Pasadena, directly across from the back of Perkins Palace. I met Gina when she walked into my store one day. She looked at me and said, “You have great hair” and I replied, “YOU have great hair” and the rest is history. She had come by to gain support for Perkins Palace, and in the process she literally changed my life. She was my friend, my sister, my partner in crime. She taught me all about rockers, musicians, the metal scene, hugging people, caring about people, being compassionate, having passion for the things you love, fighting for the things you care about, and just being a good friend. Gina was one of a handful of people on this Earth who knew me so well, knew how I really felt about things, those dark secrets that you don’t usually share with anyone. And we could talk about anything with each other. I truly did think of her as my sister, all these years. I’m an only child, which means I get to pick my family, and Gina was my first true sister.

We had so much fun together over the years … there are so many memories. Like the times we would both be dieting and we would go to the supermarket and walk around to stare at food. One of the highlights would be smelling the loaves of bread. Or the early afternoon talks we would have catching up after a night of going out the night before, either together or separately, debriefing on the parties or the dates. Walking through a San Fernando Valley house one time in the wee hours of the morning, only to find Axl Rose sitting there alone before we were escorted away. Or the fun times when she was managing Perkins Palace. Being at the shows, seeing Guns N’ Roses, Toto, LA Guns, David Lee Roth, the list goes on. And spending time at FM Station in North Hollywood (sort of our second home in the ’80s and ’90s), seeing people she knew, and meeting new ones.

Later on, after I met my husband and we both got busier and busier, we still saw each other and went to shows or had dinner, but our nights out turned into emails and then Facebook messaging, still fun and still heartfelt. We were there for the important things in each other’s lives. She even brought us our first pet rabbit, Hoover. The best rabbit ever. She had been out driving around with her friend Al Sandoval that night, and over by Arte D’Mexico in North Hollywood, this rabbit was in the street. They opened the car door and he hopped in the backseat. After offering him a French fry, they drove over to our house, not knowing what to do with him. Hoover lived with us for about 10 years. Al passed away in 2002. Her life was, and continues to be, inexplicably entwined with mine in so many ways.

Like many people, I was worried about her before she was rushed to the hospital in late April. I wasn’t with her every day, but I saw her as much as I could, and I knew what was going on every day, thanks to her family and a strong team of very close friends. And I guess for me, like everyone else that knew her, I’ve struggled to make sense of what seems to be so senseless of a tragedy.

Knowing Gina and watching her over these many years, and in the time since she’s passed, listening to people talk about her, I know Gina was one of the kindest souls we will ever know. She was tireless in her care and concern with her friends and with those she encountered every day. And people, all kinds of people, were drawn to her. She had some irresistible quality about her that everyone wanted to touch and know. Let’s face it — she really knew how to nurture friendships. She was positive. She would always encourage you, no matter what. She would offer to help, even though she really didn’t have time. She would make the time. She would see the good side of things and offer her good thoughts and prayers when things looked dire.

She would spend countless hours talking over problems and offering whatever advice or counsel she could. She really cared about all of us. And she LOVED us all. She truly did love us all. Reading over the thousands of posts on her Facebook page, in response to her being gravely ill, and also after she passed, as well as her friend’s posts and shares on Facebook, everyone felt like they had the same connection, even if they didn’t know her in person, and everyone feels a deep sense of loss. 

When I think about how senseless all this is, I also think about how we can continue on, and let a little piece of her live on within us. We can love people more. What does that mean? I can say I love you, but maybe it means taking an extra 10 or 15 minutes or an hour or a couple of hours, and really listening to the other person and finding out what is in their head and their heart. And hugging them. Hugging them hello and hugging them goodbye. That’s what Gina would have done. And, as one of her closest friends said to me the other day, we can find comfort in connecting with each other. We can share our memories of her.

Late last year, I attended a memorial service for someone I considered a really great man, who was in his 90s. He was quite well known in our community. About 1,000 people attended his public memorial. A couple of things were said that day, as they related to the man that passed away, that struck me as such great thoughts, I scribbled notes on his program. When I was writing this, I went back and found that program. They relate to Gina, too. The first one was that happiness is giving to others; that we’re put here on this Earth to help others. The second was that in talking to other people you never know who you will get to know, and how you will connect. You should be open to talking to everyone, regardless of race, age, or status, and really get to know the other person. These ideas so strongly relate to what made Gina special. In that regard, Gina was one of the richest people that I will ever know, because she had so many people that loved her. She embodied the idea that we are put on this Earth to take care of each other. I would suggest that one way we can continue to honor Gina’s memory is to take care of each other. To be kind, despite all the craziness and chaos. Kindness is an easy gift to share.

And the last note was one thought I carry with me, or try to carry with me, although it’s hard sometimes in my grief. And that is, we shouldn’t be sad that this time of Gina’s life is over. We should be glad that we were here to experience it, and all the richness we have felt because of her. Don’t be sorry it’s over; be glad that it happened. 

Gina, I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart. 

~ TRACY WALLACE

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