Scratching an itch with one last song -- Recorded just before his death, 'The Mosquito Song' is Lake Park native's legacy
On Wednesday, March 26, 2008, Hospice of the Red River Valley Chaplain Karin Moberg walked into her office and found a package lying on her desk that contained a special CD.
On the disk was recorded just one song. The words to the song, called simply "The Mosquito Song," were authored by Lake Park native Loren Lindstrom, and had been set to music and recorded by Akeley musician Fran Gack.
Unfortunately, the package had arrived just a few hours too late: Lindstrom, a patient at Hospice since September 2007, had passed away earlier that day.
"Loren died on the morning of March 26," Moberg recalled. "I came back to my office later that day after spending some time with the family, and the package was sitting on my desk."
While he wasn't there to hear it, earlier this week, Loren's final wish -- to have his song played on the local radio station -- was fulfilled.
"It was on the radio (Wednesday)," said Moberg. "Sunnyside (Care Center, where Lindstrom had been a resident since moving back to the area from Arizona in July 2007) played the story and the song over their loudspeaker, and one of the nurses said everyone in the whole place was listening.
"We did the same thing at Hospice," she continued. "All of our staff gathered around the radio and just listened."
The song's journey to the airwaves was a somewhat convoluted one.
Lindstrom, a Lake Park native, was a lifelong inventor. He was especially known for inventing a huge rolling pin that had the ability to spread out five lefse at one time, a conveyor belt that automatically brushes the excess flour off the lefse, and a small device that divides dough into 40 pieces at one time in one smooth operation. He also invented a huge mixing machine for stirring the lefse dough.
The machinery came in handy for Loren and his wife Hanna, who operated their own business, the Lindstrom Lefse Plant in Bothell, Wash., for 10 years.
Loren also made his own lamps, cut his friends' hair, and played all kinds of musical instruments -- composing a few of his own songs along the way. Then, in 1978, he and his wife retired to Mesa, Ariz., and continued to reside there for the next three decades.
But after Hanna passed away a couple of years ago, Loren's health began to deteriorate, and it became evident to his family that he could no longer remain in his Arizona home. His niece, Roxanne Samuelson, and her family, who lived in Lake Park, had been taking care of him, but they finally decided to bring him to Sunnyside so he could be closer to them.
According to Moberg, it was not an easy transition for him. He talked a lot about his home in Arizona, and the life he was forced to leave behind. Gradually, she learned of his interest in music, and of a song he had written known as "The Mosquito Song."
It took her a while to coax him into revealing the words of the song to her, but when he finally did, she wrote them down.
"He said, 'the DL radio station is going to want to play this song,'" Moberg recalled. "I said, 'You know, they just might.'"
But Moberg was concerned that the humorous words had no melody: Lindstrom simply told her, "Let someone else put a melody to my words."
Lindstrom's hospice team -- made up of social workers, nurses, chaplains and volunteers -- helped to do just that, and when they presented the finished work to him, "he was grinning from ear to ear," said Moberg.
"What's amazing to me," she continued, "is that he had lost so much, but not the essence of who he was."
So now that the song had a melody, the next task was to find a musician who could set it to music and record it.
Enter Fran Gack, who was performing a St. Patrick's Day (March 17) program at a luncheon attended by Lindstrom's volunteer coordinator and social worker. Gack, a Celtic, gospel and country performer who had expressed a desire to do some volunteer work with hospice, was approached about composing the music for Lindstrom's song.
"She immediately said yes, and took the lyrics home with her that day," Moberg noted. Within days, Gack had not only set the tune to music, but had finished and recorded the song.
The hospice team had hoped to have the CD finished in time for Lindstrom to hear his song played on the radio: Unfortunately, his god had other plans for him.
But as Moberg noted, the fulfillment of that dream gave Lindstrom something to smile about during his last days of life.
"All of us who have the opportunity to live as long as Loren did are going to end up where he was," she said.
But even as the end of his life approached, Lindstrom still had "so many gifts and talents that were still a part of who he was," Moberg continued. "There was still meaning to his life... he was still giving."
The Mosquito Song
By Loren Lindstrom
Hey there, Mr. Mosquito
He sings all day long
He'll bite you on the nose and toes
'Til Jack Frost comes along.
He hums and lands and has his fill
Restraining not, drinking at will,
Then Mr. Mosquito, heavy with drink,
Falls to the ground and dies.
In Minnesota here's the news:
The Old Mosquito is gone!
Funeral plans are now prepared
'Squito has sung his final song.
From ev'ry lake a 'squito is spared
A choir of thousands strong!
The buzz travels on throughout the state -
Old Mosquito is gone!
The 'squito choir starts to sing,
The music carries a dream:
A home where winter never comes
And summer is a buzzing scream!
Where drink is plentiful and good
Noses and toes, no shortage of food!
The 'squito gives this 'sota state
Its own Mosquito Song!