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VIRG FOSS: As life goes on

My mind tells me that as I age, life should become easier.

Less decisions to make, no full-time job to worry over, no kids to raise and a lake cabin calling me on a Minnesota lake.

My mother died two years ago just shy of her 104th birthday.

She had good health most of her life. She had a son and daughter who visited her often and loved her deeply. She outlived two husbands.

Yet as her age climbed into triple digits, it wasn’t her health, living conditions or financial situation that caused her concern.

What she found painful was that all her peers, all her brothers and sisters, all her classmates, all her fellow teachers, her office workers, had passed away before she did.

She felt alone. It took me a while to understand that. My sister and I were with her often. The children of her brothers and sisters adopted her as unofficial Super Mom after their parents died.

Yet she’d talk of an emptiness at times without any of her peers around to reminisce with about their times together.

I came to understand that over time. My best friend from high school and college was Paul Biorn, son of a preacher man, like me.

He was artist. I hired him to paint a loon scene for my lake cabin wall, so every time I look at the painting, I think of him.

We had planned on doing so many things together in retirement. Fishing, golfing, taking in a ballgame here and there, just hanging out.

He never made it to retirement. He died a half dozen years before our retirement plans were to kick in. There’s a hole there in my life now, just as my mother had talked about in her life.

Through all this, I’ve learned to spread my areas of interest to a broader base. I enjoy my cabin, my new dog Lena, continuing to write for publication whenever possible and renewing friendships with college teammates.

The one constant through it all, of course, has been sports.

I’ve written about Fighting Sioux hockey for nearly 45 years now. It remains a passion of mine. I follow all other UND sports to a lesser degree. I retain keen interest in athletics of my alma mater, St. Olaf College.

My puppy Lena is two weeks into a six-week session of obedience training and proving to be a star pupil. I am so proud of her.

I’m thinking ahead to spring, when the ice melts off Lake Beltrami, the trees spring to life and another cycle of lake life begins its glorious run.

So yes, we have losses in our lives, devastating ones. But I’ve learned if I expand my areas of interest and keep them strong and fresh, I can deal better with losses.

So my plan is to focus on my 4F program as I move along in life — family, friends, fishing and Fido.

Virg Foss reported on sports for the Grand Forks Herald for 36 years until his retirement. He writes a column exclusively for the Herald from October through April. Contact him at or (701) 772-9272.