What would you do if you knew you only had months to live?
Randy Rios has lived quite a life. In 62 years, he has undergone multiple recreations of himself. He spent over a decade as a wild musician and performer in Maui, then worked as a vintage car restorer in Florida. He even self-published a book, titled Tripping the Light Fantastic. It is vivacious, chimeric and a little raunchy, much like its author. In the last 10 years, he has become a Northern Nevadan, a loving husband, and a grandfather to two children.
Rios’ life was upturned in May of 2012, when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer. Immediately after, he received treatment and spent two years with his cancer in remission.
In 2014, the cancer returned and spread. After having gone through multiple sessions of chemotherapy, Rios made the decision to stop treatment.
“It got to the point that I couldn’t work anymore,” said Rios. “I went through all the chemotherapy treatments. But it got to be too much. So I decided to let nature take its course and live the rest of my life out.”
It was at this point that a care provider at his doctor’s office suggested that he apply to the Dream Foundation, and suddenly he was brought back to his first love, music.
The Dream Foundation aims to inspire and comfort adults with terminal illnesses by fulfilling their dreams. Now, 22 years after its creation, the Dream Foundation has helped fulfill over 25,000 dreams.
So, if you had the opportunity to have one last dream come true, what would it be?
For Rios, the answer was simple. He wanted to hear his music as a studio recording.
“Recording my songs in a studio was always expensive,” said Rios. “But it never stopped being a dream. Then one day my doctors asked if I had a dream or a wish. I thought about it and realized this was my chance. I have cancer. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be around. So I wanted something to leave behind, so that people can remember me this way.”
Over the past few months, the Dream Foundation has worked with Tanglewood Productions, a local recording studio, to make Rios’ dream happen.
In the studio, Randy Rios recorded covers of some of his favorite songs. His trusty companion was his one-of-a-kind guitar, which features the head of the infamous Bart Simpson on the headstock. His voice is velvety, with the feeling of Bob Dylan but none of the coarseness.
Rios’ album includes a variety of styles, from Neil Young to Jimmy Buffet. While they may differ in genre, the songs that Rios covers are connected by their ability to take you somewhere emotionally.
“I love music that you can relate to,” said Rios. “When I play these songs, it is like I’m living in a different moment. These songs send you back to a certain time, and you can feel it.”
Another important theme of this album is love—his love of life, of family, and especially his wife.
For Rios, the most special song on the album is his cover of “Loving her was Easier,” by Kris Kristofferson, the same song that he sang at his wedding to his wife, Mary, right in the middle of their vows.
While this album may be his parting gift to his family and friends, it seems less like a farewell, and more like a little piece of Randy that they can hold on to when he is gone.