Dr. Joseph Linsk’s heartbreaking StoryCorps interview on NPR this morning takes us back to a show we did earlier this year on the subject of regrets.
Linsk, 94, is in failing health after living a pretty good and affluent life.
When he was 8, he stole $2 that his mother had left for his family’s cleaning lady. He gave it to a kid at school whose glasses he accidentally broke.
When Pearl, the cleaning lady, asked for her money, Linsk’s mother was sure she was running a con and told her not to come back.
Eight-year-old kids can do stupid things, and pay for it for 86 years.
Give yourself a break, doc.
Pearl couldn’t get another job and now StoryCorps is looking for any surviving relatives so that Linsk can unburden himself before he goes.
We’ve heard this sort of thing before. In May, I wrote about Tom Caldwell, of Toronto, who was 7 at the time he punched Howard Rosen, apparently for being Jewish.
Caldwell is 72 now and had no idea where Howard Rosen was so he took out an ad in a newspaper to apologize.
Whatever happened to that story? Caldwell found Rosen.
“I think there’s meaning in everything that happens in life,” Rosen said after meeting with Caldwell. “Maybe a story like this helps people to understand how important it is to get rid of prejudice.”
The story prompted us to do a talk show on the subject of our regrets.
We didn’t long for callers. We had regret after regret for an hour, most of them incidents we perpetrated when we were kids — stupid kids. Regret comes with the territory.
What StoryCorps didn’t reveal is that Linsk became one of the eminent cancer specialists in the country, The Press of Atlantic City noted in a feature a few years ago. The kid that got Pearl fired also saved countless lives.
“Live your life without regret,” the self-help charlatans advise in their absurd and simplistic way.
Better? Give yourself a break for being a kid.
Oh, and don’t wait until you’re 94 to make amends.