[Read Part One of Genanne Walsh’s story.]

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“She stuck her arm into a cow up to the armpit to pull out a breached calf.”
Jonah, 89, poet

“When we needed rent money, she’d let her boss take her out to his favorite steakhouse and feel her up under the table. But she’d have me call the restaurant at a certain time, so she could say one of us was sick and get home before things got out of hand.”
Louise, 47, customs broker

“My mom always had the right answer to our questions. When I asked her how come dad always sat around in the den waiting to give advice, she said he needed to do it to feel useful. So we’d come up with a new question to ask him each week, and she’d practice my lines with me before I went in there. What a woman.”
Beaver, 55, retired television personality

“She could grow anything. Canned forty quarts of green beans in one day. We went through entire winters never having to go to the grocery store.”
Meredith, 52, seamstress


“She pinched my arm until it was black and blue.”
Stan, 45, software engineer

“She taught at the Sorbonne and left the post to move back to the states with my father. She’d say, “What a tragic mistake that was,” whenever we got on her nerves."
Alisa, 34, advertising executive

“Her love was clingy. I had to move two thousand miles away to keep her from taking over my life. I haven’t even told her I have a daughter.”
Audrey, 38, marketing specialist

“Having me was her biggest mistake. She died of complications after I was born. As a girl, I’d sit on her grave and read her writings. People ask me, “How did you, an educated lady, dream up such a horrifying monster?” It wasn’t the drugs we took that weekend, or Percy’s influence, as some have suggested. It was thinking about her, and what she could have been."
Mary, 53, writer

“She’d hide her empty vodka bottles behind the woodpile. Once, I was playing back there and fell and gashed my shin open on the broken glass. Seventeen stitches. I still have a scar.”
Dawn, 38, yoga teacher

“She ran over the family dog. She was backing the Ford out of the driveway when my brother started screaming. It didn’t kill the dog or anything, but his tail was broken. Her face went white, and she was so upset she didn’t stop shaking for hours.”
Alma, 40, daycare worker


“They pulled me out of American History to tell me about the accident. I remember thinking, ‘Oh man, I am so in trouble.’”
Heather, 16, student

“We hadn’t spoke in years, when out of the blue I get this call. She was in the hospital. She said, ’I’ve made a lot of mistakes.’”
Julio, 30, musician

“She kept cracking jokes about Mr. Clean. That was after she lost her hair.”
Edith, 39, makeup artist

“I was bounding through the forest, and the flames were eating the trees faster than some of us could run. I was with her, but then we got separated, and I saw my friends and I knew if I stayed to find her, I’d die. So I left, I left her there. I dream about it all the time.”
Bambi, 59, former child star

“I flew out as soon as I heard.”
Owen, 40, bookkeeper

“I didn’t have enough money to fly out.”
Joseph, 29, bartender

“I didn’t know what to say to my father after she died. We sat in the living room and picked at pasta salad and watched the weather channel. It felt… just awful. That’s when I realized she was the family communicator.”
Tim, 23, sales clerk

“We scattered her ashes in Israel, which is where she wanted to be. She’d lived there for a while after high school, and always talked about the strange, vivid dreams she had in Jerusalem. ‘It was like watching a movie,’ she said. ‘You fly every night.’”
Deborah, 45, rabbi

“When I got home the week after the funeral, I was still out of it, you know. But I remember sitting at the kitchen table and making two lists. One I labeled ‘Things that are the same.’ Under that I wrote stuff like my job, my apartment, my friends, my clothes, this city, my bank account, that kind of thing. And the other list I labeled, ‘Things that are different.’ I could only think of one word to write on that one. Everything. That’s what I wrote, ‘Everything.’ Then I went back to work.”
Dana, 34, database administrator


“I never knew her.”
Anna, 35, civil engineer

“We weren’t close. She’s what you would call manic-depressive. Never went on meds, either.”
Dan, 23, disc jockey

“I only saw her cry once, when her mother died. It scared me. Her face got so red and it sounded like she couldn’t breathe… At first I thought she was choking on something.”
Jeremy, 28, landscaper

“She had a short temper, but it blew over fast. One minute she’d be screaming at us for tracking mud or something, the next she’d be laughing. She laughed with her whole body. I couldn’t stay mad at her when she laughed.”
Ellen, 41, psychologist

“She used to put on Frankie Avalon records and dance for us every Friday night.”
Tina, 42, personal trainer

“She wasn’t really a blonde. She dyed her hair because my sisters and I are blonde and my stepfather thought it would be so cute… a blonde with three yellow-haired girls marrying a dark-haired guy with three brown-haired sons, blah blah blah. I think, after a while, she bought into the myth. She was blonde for the rest of her life.”
Marcia, 45, former blonde

“She took pills. They were pink and green and I thought of them as mommy’s candy.”
Jerry, 30, prep cook

“She drank a pot of coffee every day. I can’t even drink it now, without thinking I’m turning into her.”
Brenda, 46, flight attendant

“She came and got me when I was strung out and took me to the methadone clinic every day. Once, when the clinic was closed, she helped me score. She didn’t like it, but I guess she felt she had no choice.”
Rose, 33, sales associate

“She never learned to read. She hid it real good, though. None of our neighbors knew. Any forms she had to sign, that kind of thing, she asked me and my brother to read for her. We never told no one.”
Amy, 60, housekeeper

“She was pissed off when I told her I wanted to find my birth mother. Then she helped me search.”
Christine, 25, organic farmer