06/21/2013 03:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Brenda: Northwestern Pennsylvania, September 2009


I finish speaking with three of the people who run the local Moose Lodge where we have our catering set up, near our filming location, and turn to see Brenda sitting at a porch table with cigarettes and a can of root beer.

"How are you?" I ask.

"Good, but tired," she says. "I get up early to clean this place... been doing it almost every day for 12 years." Her voice is soft, clear and matter-of-fact. "Sometimes I tend bar here too."

We chat a bit -- I ask if she's from around here all her life and she says yes, and I tell her a bit about myself and my family. "How about you?" I ask "Do you have siblings?"

"There were eight siblings... but my twin sister died five years ago."

"Oh...I'm sorry. What happened?"

"Cancer... they said we were identical twins, but she was taller, with darker hair."

"There must have been such a close bond between you."

"Yes there was," says Brenda, as if seeing it right now. After a moment she continues, "My daughter died in a car accident in 1996."

I am moved by Brenda's quiet strength in the face of her loss. People are starting to file in for lunch. "Please go in and get some lunch. Our caterers are really good!" I say.

"OK," she says and heads in. I soon follow. After, on my way back to set, I see her sitting on the porch.

"So long, it was nice meeting you," I say.

"You too," she says, and once again, my day and life are enriched by having taken a few moments to hear someone's story.

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