SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Beatrice Short decided long ago that she would enjoy her retirement.
And, true to her word, she did just that this past week here at the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic, bowling in both singles and doubles in the 65-69 age bracket.
While she did not win a medal, she enjoyed the competition and camaraderie, she says.
Life hasn't been easy for Short, a 66-year-old grandmother from Aberdeen.
In 1979, she suffered a mild heart attack that sidelined her for about four months. Two years later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Recovery took nearly two years.
In 1982,Short was diagnosed with a severe thyroid problem that, she said, was her toughest battle of all.
"It was like a new life when I got over that," said Short. "I had a whole new outlook on life. Your values change. What you used to think was important changes. You lived. I guess before I just really existed."
Short also had cataracts removed from both eyes. Even continuing battles with glaucoma and skin cancer haven't stopped her.
No one at the bowling alley watching Short stare down those pins and roll a strike would ever imagine how much she has overcome. None of it shows on the lanes, where Short carries a 161 average and has bowled a high game of 244 this year.
Even before her illnesses, Short didn't have an easy road. In 1963, her husband died, leaving her with two children, ages 9 and 11.
To support her family, Short worked as a nurse at Perry Point Veterans Hospital. Her shifts were always changing, and she often worked a double shift. But she managed to put her son, Leroy, through the University ofMaryland and her daughter, Susan, through two years at Salisbury State.
"I had to give up so much back then," she said. "I used to saythat if I got through it, I wasn't going to save my retirement, I was going to spend it."
Short is making up for lost time. Bowling has become her ticket to an active retirement.
She joined her first league 25 years ago and now bowls regularly in five. In addition to competing in the Maryland Senior Olympics and the national senior games, Short travels all over the country for 10-pin tournaments.
"Somebody said I'm known in all the bowling alleys of America. We're homelong enough to do the wash and then we go again. I've gotten to go alot of places and meet a lot of people I wouldn't have otherwise," said Short, who often travels with her friend, Paul Honda, also a bowler.
This summer, she has already bowled in tournaments in Chicago,Atlantic City and Charleston, South Carolina. Bowling has also takenher to Toronto and Denmark, and she'll head to Cincinnati next week.
For 21 years, Short has bowled in the Women's International Bowling Congress national championships. The event took place earlier thisyear in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so Short tacked on a trip to Mount Rushmore in nearby South Dakota.
To qualify for last week's national senior games, Short rolled 539 for three games to win the state gold medal in the 65-69 age bracket.
Although Short said she has done well in many tournaments, she doesn't win too many. That doesn't really matter to her: "If you don't ever have any downs, you can't appreciate the ups."