KUHF-Houston Public Radio's "This I Believe" with Mary Lawrence

Mary was born in New Jersey, but only lived there a few years before the family moved to Houston. They landed in the Clear Lake area. And today, many years later, Mary hasn't strayed far. She and her husband live in League City. Mary is the Lead Analyst in the Planning and Service Evaluation Department at Metro. In her work, Mary crunches numbers, but in her essay, Mary celebrates words and the impact they can have.
Mary remembers her first impression of Houston. Mary's family including her father, mother and older brother were visiting Houston prior to their move. Their late night flight arrived at Hobby Airport. With the temperature still in excess of 90 degrees, they went to the un-air conditioned baggage terminal. It was July. Welcome to Texas.

Mary's father was a Chemical Engineer and was moving to Houston to help build the petrochemical refineries in Texas City. Mary was a young girl on an adventure, but she concluded quite quickly that her new hometown was a hot and humid place in July.

Today, Mary and her husband of 28 years live in League City with their cat, Callie. She commutes in to downtown each morning to work at Metro but instead of driving her new car on I-45 each day, she rides the "company plane." She does the "park and ride" to-and-from and in this crazy busy world, she says it gives her time to catch up on her reading or journal entries.

Here's Mary Lawrence with her essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
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"I believe in the power and the sound of words.

I love the challenge of arranging and rearranging them until they finally come together as they should. But beyond my fondness for them is respect for the power they wield. Words can cut and cut deeply. But well chosen words have the power to touch us, to bring wholeness, to affirm life. Words like "I love you." A simple phrase, but one I believe can never be spoken or heard too many times.

The "I love yous" always flowed freely in my family and for that I am most grateful. Many things in life I have questioned, but never the love of my family. That, I always knew and never doubted.

But there came a time when I could no longer hear those words from one I longed to hear say them. Toward the end of my mother's life, Alzheimer's had taken its toll. Mom seldom, if ever, communicated verbally. She would still reach for my hand now and then. Maybe smile when she saw me. Once, she even clapped her hands. But what I wanted, what I longed for, was to hear once again the words she could no longer say: "I love you."

I cannot recall the last time I actually heard my mother say those words to me. To be sure, there was a last "I love you" from her. I just had no way of knowing it at the time. But one day, not too long after she died, I was looking through some of her things. I came across a card I had given her…and card long since sent and long since forgotten. Looking inside, I saw that my mother's very familiar and comforting handwriting. And there, just below my "I love you very much" were words written just to me: "I love you, also! With love, Mother."

It was a simple phrase written on a card sent years ago. Yet it is amazing how love touches us again and again. And how we need it again and again.

This I believe."
Bio photo of Paul Pendergraft

Paul Pendergraft

Artistic Advisor

Paul Pendergraft is KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s Senior Producer for News & Public Affairs...