TO TAKE MY mind off Ted Cruz being with us for another six years, I’ve found that repeatedly jabbing a needle into my knee seems to work best. But today I’m thinking of the more comforting world of assisted living, specifically the current residence of my elderly parents. Although I have to be careful using that word “elderly,” since I am, ahem, of a certain age myself. And I have my own burden to bear. (Recently, several people remarked that I look like Clint Eastwood, that handsome paragon of Hollywood masculinity. But they weren’t talking about Clint Eastwood in his prime, but rather the current Clint Eastwood, who’s 88. That hurts.)
My parents reside at a Baptist senior center near Florence, S.C., a town not named after a recent hurricane that bulldozed its way through the South. There wasn’t much left, anyway, after Hurricane Matthew came through earlier. (And then there was Michael, another “100-year storm,” a phrase that apparently now means “monthly.”)
Visiting my parents is always a joy, as well as a jolt. The jolt comes when driving from North Carolina into South Carolina, where the road immediately becomes cracked and rough, registering the difference between a state that responsibly maintains its highways and one that instead puts its money into maintaining the 41st-best health care in the nation, not to mention the 48th-best education. (High fives for Mississippi, which is way up at 46th!) In fairness, South Carolina ranks 12th in gun ownership, so you probably don’t want to complain about the roads.