Giving you a benefit of a doubt here, because you did write the opening post as a rant, and rants are not always the best way to be able to state one's own opinions and feeling sometimes in a more sensible way. I don't think it's factory working or "blue-collar" jobs or things like that that were the focus of what upsets you.
I'd hazard what is upsetting you about your grandfather (and perhaps a lot of other members of your family) is that you view them as complacent when it comes to realizing their potential (and because you presumably believe everyone has potential to be more than just "ordinary"). They could have been many things, but they are not, and you find that frustrating, possibly because for many folk there is an innate drive to grow, to learn, to have opinions and be passionate, and you do not see many in your family as possessing any passion for life (being part of activism, charity, or in the pursuit of knowledge being various ways to show that passion), which is very demoralizing for you.
I can see why that might be frustrating...but you have to remember that your grandfather lived in a different time. There may be reasons you do not know for the choices he did make (even if you find those choices to be pedestrian or lacking in substance). There are individuals who wake up, work, build a family, and live in a small and very personal world. And it is not an inherently bad thing. Such people are the bulk of society, just people living their lives. Most of my dad's side of the family was rather like this, many of them being farmers who had little outside their experience except farming and little desire to move away from it (the few who did worked in factories and the like).
Having meaning in life is very subjective. Your grandfather (or other family members) may be happy with how their lives are and feel they have that purpose and passion. That might be why your mother doesn't really seem to "get" it; she is operating under a very different perspective than you. But if you feel they did not have that passion, let that inspire and motivate you to be that person in your family that stands up and does something that you feel to be great.
No matter how you think or feel about your family, be willing to be that person who steps up to make a difference. Be the person in your family that you would be proud to be.
(Also--sorry if this seems nonsensical to anyone or I have misinterpreted you, DTW. It's a little late at night for me, and I'm a bit groggy.)