Adelia Enriquez, 68: Paul Anka's 'Diana'

Feb 26, 2021
Originally published on March 1, 2021 9:44 am

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


My mama loved to dance and hum to tunes, and one song that was really special to my mama and papa was Paul Anka's "Diana." When my papa would sing this to mama, he would replace the lyric "Diana" with "Adelia" without fail. He would serenade her with this whenever we did karaoke or, for instance, when we had a huge party to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. It would make my mama laugh, but she loved it just the same. When I think about this, I have this image of her looking up and smiling at my dad belting out this song.

This last Christmas, I decided to learn how to play the ukulele, and for their 42nd wedding anniversary (Dec. 30), the week before my mama died, my husband and I went to surprise her and papa by (socially distant) serenading them. At first it was on their balcony, then when they came down to the front of their house we sang a few songs together including "Diana"/"Adelia," even if I could barely reach the high notes. She happened to tell us then that her and papa "had a cold," so I said I felt bad that they had to come down for us. She said "oh not at all, I love surprises!" This was the last time I saw my mama. I had no idea what a gift it was to do this and to sing her that song one last time. —Ann Enriquez, daughter

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

More than 513,000 people have now died in the United States of COVID-19. NPR is remembering some who lost their lives by listening to the music that they loved and also hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs of Remembrance. Here's Ann Enriquez talking about her mother, Adelia Enriquez.

ANN ENRIQUEZ: I lost my mother, Adelia. And the song that reminds me of her is "Diana" by Paul Anka.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIANA")

ENRIQUEZ: My papa, whenever we did karaoke - we love karaoke - and he would put that song on. And he would, you know, be standing up. He would sing to her that song, and he was really pretty good at singing it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIANA")

PAUL ANKA: (Singing) I'm so young, and you're so old. This, my darling, I've been told. I don't care just what they say 'cause forever, I will pray.

ENRIQUEZ: And he would replace the lyric Diana to Adelia, her name. So instead it would be, stay by me, Adelia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIANA")

ANKA: (Singing) Oh, please stay by me, Diana.

ENRIQUEZ: My mom would be, like, kind of, like, teasingly would whoop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIANA")

ANKA: (Singing) Oh, oh - oh, oh - oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, please...

ENRIQUEZ: And my mom just loved music, any kind of music. You know, it has a good beat, she'll move to it. And she was just such a vibrant person. That image of my dad singing this to my mom is like a photograph that will always remind me of my mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIANA")

ANKA: (Singing) Squeeze me, baby, with all your might. Oh, please stay by me, Diana.

ENRIQUEZ: I picked up ukulele in the beginning of December, just as a way to have a gift for my parents' 42nd wedding anniversary - 'cause you can't hug them. You can't really see each other. And a week before she passed, we didn't get to see each other on Zoom that day. So the next day, I went, and I sang the Paul Anka song, and I replaced Diana with Adelia. And that really - by far, I could not have asked for a better last time seeing my mom than that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ENRIQUEZ: (Singing) Oh, please stay by me, Adelia.

INSKEEP: Ann Enriquez singing and playing for her mother. Adelia was 68. You can visit our tribute, NPR Songs of Remembrance, at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ENRIQUEZ: (Playing ukulele). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.