By Ann Schranz
Kilo kilo six kilo tango x-ray (KK6KTX) – I never imagined that, at age 58, I would have just recently received my ham radio call sign, but it is true. I pressed the radio’s “push to talk” button yesterday for the first time and introduced myself to nearby ham radio operators who are prepared to relay messages in the event of an emergency.
I never imagined that, at this age, I would be wildly enthusiastic about Olympic-style boxing, but it is true. I have taken boxing lessons for the past two and a half years, and I have started a Meetup group for women seeking boxing sparring partners. I was never athletic at earlier times in my life. However, today I need a small shelving unit to hold my athletic gear: boxing gloves, head protection, boxing shoes, mouth guard, hand wraps, towel, sweat bands, ankle braces.
My work as a Unitarian Universalist minister is both challenging and fulfilling. I openly identified as bisexual and poly during the ministerial credentialing process, which occasionally made for interesting times. My partner and I live 35 miles apart – close enough to see each other a couple of times each week, yet far enough away that we each have full lives in our respective towns. Sometimes we long for more sustained time together, but it looks like that will have to wait.
All in all, life is more satisfying today than it has ever been, and that is a happy surprise. Still, I find myself reflecting on mortality fairly often. That is an occupational hazard / spiritual opportunity. I am aware that eventually we say good-bye to everyone and everything we care about. I aspire to cherish relationships and nurture them, while at the same time recognizing that change is the only constant.
I feel optimistic about my ability to navigate the aging process. My mother is in her early 80s, and she is an inspiring role model. I do not have any children, which simplifies my options in older age in some ways, though it complicates options in other ways. I have no regrets about my decision not to have children, nor do I regret my decision not to marry.
It has been 10 years or so since I was involved with bisexual activism. I have fond memories of the people I met in those intense days. I am grateful for the Facebook connections that still link us. Who knows what I will do in retirement? I may reconnect with people and causes dear to my heart. I do not want to wait until retirement to stop and smell the roses. By then, I hope stopping to smell life’s roses will be a matter of habit.
Ann Schranz is a Unitarian Universalist minister serving a congregation in Southern California. She is 58 years old.