My grandma came to see me graduate high school last year. My grandpa too. It was an extra special occasion, because not only was I graduating high school (no one was sure 'til the absolute last minute), but I was giving the speech (the last minute actually had to bumped up so we could know before the school printed the programs). Her appearance was only out of the ordinary in that she was 83, my grandpa was a stroke victim, and they lived in Iowa: driving to Milwaukee was a painful experience. Irregardless of all that, my grandma was, unexpectedly, proud. Well, we've all got grammas, right? We know how they are.
Anyway, after the speech was given and the ceremony celebrated, Grandma came up to me, gave me a most-wonderful Grandma hug, and congradulated me, beaming. But then she told me something special, something I likely won't ever forget, "You know Ty, I've been reading in the newspaper that you guys, your generation, you're going to be the next Greatest Generation."
Telling me about how the New York Times was saying we're compassion and adaptable and all these other things that are wonderful, the kinds of things that every grandma wants to tell her grandkids, I was struck. Usually I dismiss these kinds of things, I hate fatalism, refuse to believe in higher purposes, and try to avoid letting my Grandma's compliments go to my ego too much.
But this, I don't know, it rang in my ears like nothing else. Still today, when I think about the kids I graduated with, I can't help but think, "hot damn."
But just now, I was reading Paul Krugman's recent Op-Ed piece and realized that there is one difference between us and the former Greatest Generation, one that will define our future, our prosperity, our freedom. See, Grandmas was born in 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression; too say that she learned to save would mean the half of it.
Our ability to save will define our success.