Susan and I drove down to Lawton, OK, today. It's just down the road from us about 90 minutes to the southwest. I must say Lawton is one of the true hell holes of this state. How can it not be when it's in the broiling southwest and is the site of Fort Sill, a huge army base that's home for the the headquarters of Army artillery school? They teach guys how to shoot the big guns there. OK, so you know army bases are real good for crime, pawn shops, strip joints, and cheap bars, right? And when the base is huge, you get a lot of these things. Plus you have a large retired population that kinda just stays around the last place they were stationed. Only in some kind of alternate universe would I consider such a locale to be desirable, but in the alternate universe we already inhabit, this is considered a great thing to have one of these horrors located in your town. Why? Well, jobs and money! What other unalloyed goods do we have in this world?
We went to visit an old friend, Fr. Joe Ross, who is pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Lawton right there at Gore Ave and N 7th Street. Poor Joe has got Parkinson's Disease, and he looked like hell to me. He's my age, 69, and he says he's just hanging on taking ideas about retirement "one year at a time." He likes what he does, pastoring, but it's getting harder for him to keep up with. Joe and I and Susan spent a lot time together during our first stay in Oklahoma, and he was always funny, well informed, generous, and vital. He's all of these still, except he labors under the burden of the huge handicap this disease gives you. It really made me sad to see. You always promise when you part after such visits that you will do it again, but you always wonder if maybe that's the last time you're going to see somebody. I don't expect this will the case here, but one of things they don't tell you about getting old is you have to bear the burden of watching people you love age too.