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This I Believe

KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Nita Costello

Nita is a native Texan, born in Corpus Christi, but she’s lived in Houston since the age of three. She went on to graduate from the University of Houston and now Nita has a son attending UT in Austin. She’s reached that point in her life where she’s reflecting back…especially to those family members lost over time. In her essay, Nita pays tribute to her grandparents…early influences that she now truly appreciates.


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Nita grew up in northwest Houston near Jersey Village. When they moved here, it was in the “country.” It’s long been swallowed up by suburbia. She studied Journalism at UH, but ended up pursuing Technical Writing as a profession and has done that since graduating. Now that her son is out of the house, in Austin attending UT, she’s able to spend spare time doing home projects. She just purchased an older home in need of work, so that’s what occupies most of her spare time. While in the midst of what she calls “grubby home projects,” Nita finds herself thinking of family members, especially her grandparents. Her essay for KUHF’s This I Believe pays tribute to them.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather while working on my latest piece of art. At least that’s how I describe my newest home project. I am plastering the walls of my bedroom. I do this not because it’s my job, but because I am cheap. Why pay someone else to do something I can do it myself?

I think of my grandfather while doing grubby home projects because this was his livelihood. On a tile layers pay, he and my grandmother, speaking no English, raised a family of seven in a two bedroom, one bath shotgun house in one of Corpus Christi’s poorest neighborhoods.

And my grandmother worked hard to make their home seem like a better place. When people entered through the chain-linked gate, they stepped into a lush garden leading to a front porch with perfectly-placed bright red tiles laid in sparkling white grout. The contrast of the other houses in the neighborhood was stark. I didn’t see it or appreciate it then, but I do now.

They worked hard to make life better for their children so their children would have a better life.

As a single Hispanic mom at the age of 18, one thing kept me forging ahead into college and beyond. I wanted to do better for my son like my parents did for me.

It’s really about working hard. What kept me going was thinking I can make tomorrow a better day than today. Keeping an open mind and my mouth shut also helped.

I truly believe everyone has something to teach us and it’s our job to listen to apply what is said to our situation. The minute we think we have nothing to learn from others is the minute we are doomed to arrogance & failure.

My grandfather died when I was 10. My memories of him are of a kind man who worked hard. And my grandmother spoke no English and we spoke little Spanish, so we didn’t communicate much. I knew she loved us and that’s what counted.

So how do I know I am fulfilling my grandparent’s legacy? The one they worked so hard for? Because I think today is a better day than yesterday and I will strive to make tomorrow a better day than today. I am sure this is what he wanted for us. This I believe.”