This week, musician Trini Lopez died. I immediately thought about my mother and how saying Trini’s name helped her in her recovery from a grueling cancer surgery.
I was familiar with many of my mother’s favorite musicians, which included Elvis and country legends like Hank Williams and Willie Nelson. But I had never heard of Trini Lopez until my mother became ill and required emergency surgery. Her mental state had taken a decline due to a delayed diagnosis, and she faced recovering from general anesthesia while being bedridden, trying to regain her physical strength.
Mom’s mental state bounced back pretty quickly, but there was one name she couldn’t remember to save her life, and it was an important one: her surgeon, Dr. Lopez. After many false starts, Mom came up with an unusual way to prompt her memory, by connecting the doctor with Trini Lopez, whose music she enjoyed as a young adult. When Dr. Lopez would make his rounds and Mom would be trying hard to remember his name, I would say, “Trini” as the clue and then Mom would say, “Lopez!” I’m sure the doctor thought we were a little, ahem, eccentric, but it worked every time.
It was one of the more lighthearted moments during Mom’s lengthy recovery period. I bought her a Trini Lopez CD when she returned home and she loved to play it. So it was fitting that when she died, that beloved Trini Lopez album was playing. I touch upon this in one of my essays in The Reluctant Caregiver.
I’ll always have fond memories of Trini Lopez for the joy that he brought my mother and the memory aid he provided in the hospital.