“My only regret is not doing enough.” That answer not only floored me, but totally inspired me. The question was proposed by a young woman in the audience. “Mrs. Gruber, If you’d look back over your life…do you have any regrets?” I can’t get that response out of my head, nor do I want to.
Here’s a woman that’s 101 years old that experienced and accomplished more by the time she was in her mid-twenties than so many of us in an entire lifetime. She became the youngest PhD in the world (accomplished in one year) before going on to become an international foreign correspondent at the age of 24. And she was just getting started!
A famed journalist, photographer, author of 19 books, humanitarian and a former U.S. government official, she was born in Brooklyn with the love of adventure. Add that to fearlessness and powerful intellect! In her thirties she escorted Holocaust refugees to America, covered the Nuremberg trials, and documented the ship Exodus while making an attempt to deliver 4,500 Jewish refugees first to Cyprus, then to Britain and then to France before heading back to Germany. While aboard the prison ship, she photographed the refugees confined in wire cages. (Which by the way is currently being exhibited at Soho Photo here in NYC this month!)
I was fortunate to attend the screening of the documentary “Ahead of Time” of Gruber’s life from 1911 to 1947. Held at the Shearith Israel, home to the first Jewish congregation in the United States, now 350 years old. (Just an added bonus!) She answered questions for thirty minutes or so before her book signing, “Witness,” an account of what she witnessed up close and personal on her assignments.
Asked if she was working on any new projects and Gruber was quick to answer, “Yes, just yesterday I met with someone who wants to work on a project in Haiti….” (Really??? At 101??) When asked the best piece of advice she ever received? “Take photographs with your heart…”
It’s been a few days since the screening, but I just can’t forget those words…“My only regret is not doing enough.” Oh, how we all can do so much more. So much more…