One recent Sunday morning, my body complained of the simple fact that I sat in a chair. The reason being I forgot to do my back exercises in the shower. If I neglect to do a set of stretches, the pain resembles a rusty nail in a floorboard waiting to be pulled.

Alas, I’m a baby boomer, reluctantly enrolled in that rather dubious club The Brotherhood of Gray.

At first I thought it a cosmic joke. I don’t join clubs. And it wasn’t gradual, I woke up one morning – gray. Never saw it coming.

I see it in others (my wife, she claims I gave gray to her). Even in North Penobscot. On visits to the old hometown, I notice my former high-school classmates look exactly the same, except their profiles grow a bit further out of focus with each passing year. They seem to be fading, in a rather genteel fashion. Boy, is it scary. Which came first – the silver or the gray?

We baby boomers groan more, not because our jobs are particularly tough. We groan because living itself has gotten hard. A budding talent and an ever developing skill. Groaning is now an accepted form of communication, a greeting, a bonding if you will. We raise our hands and utter, “Ahhh,” to see our acquaintances still … groaning.

At Planet Fitness in Biddeford, where I exercise my spare tire, we turn the place into A Wailing Wall. I fit right in. (A few listen to Walkmans. At least one can turn down that music.)

Our ’70s image is waning. This past summer I said goodbye to my ponytail. My hair is creeping above my ears and parted in the middle. I also try not to skip two days in a row without shaving, including weekends. I get grizzled, like an old lion coughing in the morning over leftovers. Not very sexy if one catches a glimpse of THAT in the dining room mirror.

The Brotherhood of Gray.

I visited an older friend of mine in a retirement condominium. I was impressed at how big the hallways and staircases were, all those expansive rooms, all that living space. I marveled at how the lawns were mowed, the trash removed, and the snow neatly shoveled by “others.”

It made me feel comfortable with the future. My maturing bones yearn for green pastures and wide hallways. Have you ever been to a retirement village? “Ahhh,” you should.

The Brotherhood of Gray.

I’ve found it’s the limbo between intelligence and wisdom, between looking toward the future and remembering the past.

Instead of striving to accumulate possessions for ourselves, we began the process of disbursement to the next generation. There is still more to do in our lives, though. Lots more.

The Brotherhood of Gray.

It could be worse. Can you imagine paying full price at bean suppers?

Edward M. Turner is a freelance writer living in Biddeford who has published stories, essays and poems. His novel “Rogues Together” won the 2002 Eppies Award for best in action/adventure.


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