The intense debates over health-care reform have brought to mind some poignant memories. When my father was in his early 40s he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Our entire family was shaken, but perhaps no one more than Granddad and Grandma Clapp. Moving into their elderly years, they had to watch a son die.
To eke out a living, Granddad Clapp had left his family when he was 15 or 16. Coming of age during the Great Depression, he cowboyed and hired out as a farmhand. Over time he scratched together enough money to buy cropland in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He stuck with it through the monstrous dust storms of the 1930s, plowing down sand dunes on an iron-wheeled tractor. After decades of sweat and the good luck of finding oil beneath their land, Granddad and Grandma finally learned what it was like to live with plenty rather than scarcity.