Remembering and Never Forgetting Mama Z – An Angel in the Metal Scene
Written by Matt Drummond
“Mrs. Ziolo was always there to welcome me. She never complained if I needed to sleep there. If i was hungry, she fed me. She was a different person ya know, different.” -Jimmy Genenz
Whenever I think I understand how impactful and meaningful being in the brotherhood of metal is I always get surprised. Every group of friends, around the world, all had that one hangout place, I’m sorry to say this, but the place where I got to hangout is better than yours, guaranteed.
If you ever take a minute to reflect on people and moments in your life the people who shaped you into the person you are today are irreplaceable. This past year a woman who shaped me, and pretty much everyone I know, passed. The devastation from this rippled through everyone she touched. I guess in our naive minds this was someone who we just figured would live forever. We had this thought process because none of us could fathom our lives without her; we needed her.
Dianne L “Lori” Ziolo, aka Mom, was and remains a woman who rewired a bunch of people’s negative ways of thinking. See not everyone had rosy childhoods. When you’re young and you feel like you have nobody, it’s a tough spot to be in. Do U think Mrs. Ziolo made everyone she met a better person? You’re god damn right she did, and I’m not the only one who feels that way.
“Mrs. Ziolo made me a better person. I think everyone who has a positive influence does. It was her warmth, and generosity. At the time when i met her, I really didn’t give a fuck about anything. All of a sudden, here comes this person who owes me absolutely nothing and she’s willing to do so much for me. That generosity…and that warm spirit. She took care of us, she took care of me, she took care of you. She took care of everyone. She was a second mom to us.”
“Absolutely, she made me a better person. I can’t even tell you how many times i just sat on her bed and just talked about life, and she’d give me advice. Shit, she gave me a house when I was pretty much homeless. Honestly, I’d probably still be sleeping on a fuckin’ park bench if it wasn’t for her. She definitely helped steer me in a right direction at a time when I needed it most.”
As someone who had the honor, and I stress the word honor, of getting to know Mama Z, it was remarkable to hear so many amazing stories about an amazing woman. I think we’re all aware that what Mrs. Ziolo did impacted us in an enormous way. With that said, not one of us will probably ever truly comprehend the magnitude she actually had and how deep it went. One joke I like to make is if my mom saw five carloads of metalheads pulling in the driveway at 3 AM hammered drunk, she’d call 911. Not Mama Z though, she would hear the cars pull up and start cooking us food or something.
When you come from a place where nobody believes in you, meeting someone like Mrs. Ziolo is almost confusing at first. Why does this woman, who I hardly know, believe in me? Well, it’s because she saw the good in everyone. It didn’t matter if it was Christmas or Thanksgiving or whatever, Mrs. Ziolo, accepted everyone, always.
“It was so nice to be accepted by someone. She took us all in when we had nowhere to go. When I think about her I just think about all the love. She was like a shepherd of a flock and she just took care of all of us. My favorite memory of her is my life. She saved my life.”
“Mrs. Ziolo carried herself with complete class. Besides how generous she was, she lived her life with absolute class. You can see her in Jeff, he has a heart of gold and that came directly from his mom.”
I can’t over exaggerate the large number of stories people shared with me about Mrs. Ziolo. Everyone who stepped foot in that house took their own personal memory of Mama Z with them when they left; whether it was her sitting on the stairs, silently listening to Jeff and Jimmy play guitar, or offering Steve scrambled eggs in the morning, she was quite simply Mom.
With no possible way of understanding why she was that way, I turned to her son for answers.
“That was just her. She always wanted people to be happy and pursue their dreams. She was a firm believer in being yourself, no matter what anyone else said. She was an old hippy, how else could someone deal with a bunch of long haired, tattooed, metalheads?”
Mrs. Ziolo left an absolute legacy in her departure. There’s no question, she saved a lot of people’s lives. She also injected a positive way of thinking into people who had all but given up. The power of her kindness will never die. It will live on forever in all of us. Maybe Mrs. Ziolos’ greatest gift that she has ever given was her son, Jeff. He embodies everything that his mom took most pride in. To be responsible for continuing her legacy is undoubtedly a daunting task. The good news for Jeff is he doesn’t have to carry that torch alone. There are countless people willing to step up in her honor.
Finally I flat out asked Jeff how much he misses his mom?
“No words will ever be able to answer that question.”
RIP Mrs.Ziolo, just like your son said, there are no words, just love