Two Louisiana families are joined together forever through a baby boy who entered their lives at a time when both were at crossroads of their life.
David Begnaud from CBS News traveled back to his home town of Lafayette, Louisiana to bring this story to us. The baby boy named Kingston James Hall was born to his parents, Connie Despanie and Benjamin Hall, but he did not have a middle name.
The idea for a middle name came after the couple received a handwritten letter from a woman who had just lost her 86-year-old father at the hospital. Jamie Fontenot, wrote the letter the day her dad died in the same hospital.
Fontenot wrote the letter after hearing lullaby music playing on the hospital’s PA system to celebrate the arrival of a newborn. Kingston was born at 10:40 a.m. just minutes after Fontenot’s father passed away. “Somebody said, ‘Well then, that’s dad’s angel,’” she told Begnaud in a 2018 interview.
The letter was received by Dr. Jennifer Pugliese and nurse Cydney Begnaud, who assisted in Kingston’s birth on Jan. 12, 2018 and it read, “To my dad’s angel, even though I will never know your name, you are the first child born here after my dad’s passing. When one life is taken, another is given. Please keep my dad in your prayers,”
Pugliese handed over the letter to the new mom. “She started reading it silently and she just had tears streaming down her face. It was really beautiful,” Pugliese said.
Fontenot’s dad’s name was James Lee Grimmett and the baby’s parents named their newborn Kingston James Hall after him.
Nurse, Cydney Begnaud said, “I came in and then the dad says, ‘Oh, we found our middle name!’ And I’m like, ‘All right, what is it?’ And he says, ‘Well, it’s James, of course!’” she said. Cydney Begnaud arranged a meeting between Fontenot and the family which was an emotional moment. She happens to be David Begnaud’s mother and the one who gave CBS News the story idea.
Now four years later, the families are still connected through a special bond that the letter created between them. Begnaud caught up with them, including Kingston, who is now 4 years old and has begin pre-K.
CBS’s David Begnaud was able to be there during a reunion of the families four years later. Fontenot said she was following Kingston’s milestones and put together a special picture book for his baptism. “I wanted something sort of set in stone that he could have through the years, that he could look back at when he was born,” she said.
His mother Despanie said that he was proud of his name, “He loves to say his name,” Despanie said. “He’ll tell you, ‘I’m Kingston James Hall…’ I can’t even describe it because he’s here and on top of that he was blessed with an angel as well coming into the world.”
When they were asked by David about what the story does for other people, they answered in a similar way saying, “That good things still happen, that strangers can become family,” Fontenot said. Despanie said, “Like everybody can come on one accord and love one another unconditionally without even knowing each other,” she said.