I’ve been blessed in my life.
Blessed to have seen the places I’ve seen, to do the work I’ve done, and to meet the people I’ve met.
One of the people I feel most blessed to have known is Lucille Kester.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with her and her family last summer.
In total, I spent about a week with the Kester clan. I say clan because there are literally hundreds of them.
Lucille was the mother to 11 children, grandmother to 46, and great grandmother to 105 (with more on the way).
I was lucky to spend a couple hours alone with her one warm Saturday afternoon last summer. She had been interviewed on camera. But between family members in the background and bright lights in front of her, there were a lot of distractions.
I noticed in our interactions with the family that Lucille tended to find one person and talk with them. My grandmother used to do the same thing. Big crowds, as fun as they are, can be overwhelming.
So Lucille and I sat alone together in her house one afternoon with nothing but a microphone between us. I didn’t want to just ask questions. I wanted to talk to her. To have a conversation.
For two hours we talked.
We talked about Harold, her husband for over 70 years.
We cried together talking about Joe, her youngest child who died of cancer when he was 9.
We laughed about Smoke and Paul, cousins and grandsons, who were born together (roughly 48 minutes apart), work together, and joke together.
We talked about her family - the community of people she helped build.
By the end of the day we were old friends. She told me to come back anytime. To visit her again.
Sadly, I never did.
She passed away on March 5.
Her family put her to rest last Saturday.
This is her story, through our lens.