How Did We Miss the Glaring Lessons the Greatest Generation Hoped to Convey?

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I’ve been fortunate enough to have had two grandfatherly types in my life (relatives, I mean. I’m not saying I’ve only known two senior citizens). Paternal, lost a few years back now, and a father-in-law whom I treasure and hope lives forever.

Sadly, I never got to meet my maternal grandfather but ohhhhhh the stories about the Legend himself! Let’s just say he was a pro-horse-racing steward on the circuit in the 1930s-1950s and leave the rest to our imaginations. He would, like, go out and show up back home with an airplane. So let’s set him aside as an example for these particular purposes. He was an outlier. But a lovely one by all accounts. And a phenomenal father to his two daughters.

Anyhow, the maternal grandpa part aside, my point is that most of us have been fortunate enough to have members of the Greatest Generation in our lives and not just in passing fashion. Weddings. Family occasions. Bar and bat mitzvahs. Christenings. Quiet family dinners. Thanksgivings. Christmases. And so forth.

These troubled times (and reflections on how careless I had become with finances essentially thinking there are little monkeys in trees that will always just come hand me money) have made me recognize that most of “The GG-ers” I have experienced along the way had something in common: always living in gentle austerity, having known the hell of the Depression and never forgotten. Comfortable, with warm, welcoming homes filled with delicious food, and never in need. Happily tending to their families, not going out buying stuff they didn’t need, and it is what kept them well. It allowed my aforementioned father-in-law and paternal grandfather both to care for their wives at great expense as they succumbed to Alzheimer’s.

Prior to that, it allowed them to retire. Can anyone around my age (51) begin to imagine retiring?

If, God forbid, tragedy struck your family, particularly a breadwinner, do you just think a GoFundMe will solve your problems?

I can’t and I don’t. But then I haven’t known the kind of struggle that our elders have. And as I and so many of my entrepreneur friends find ourselves clamoring for air (and cash, but I don’t want it from the government), I deeply regret not having paid more attention.

This is not a lecture, this is food for thought. I am scolding myself and hoping to bring a few friends into the mix.

Net-net, as I see it: Never allow yourself nor your children to believe that what is before you today will be before you tomorrow. Because it damn well just may not.

In the meantime, be well and strong, my friends and colleagues. God bless us all.

Christian Josi is the Founder and Managing Director of C. JOSI & COMPANY, a global communications and public affairs resource organization, and Principal of SLAYMEDIA LLC, a multimedia development and production enterprise based in Virginia Beach and Washington.

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