David Dewhurst is out of state for Tuesday’s inauguration of Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor – probably not a surprise given the insults hurled back and forth during their bitter primary runoff.
Even so, Dewhurst gets a mention here because, in an interview during his final days in office, he gave a memorable answer when asked for his top memory on the job.
It was Inauguration Day, 2003.
“My mother was still alive but was so sick she couldn’t travel. And because of lung cancer, she had had so much of her lungs removed that she wasn’t getting enough oxygen into her brain, and she was suffering symptoms of dementia,” he said.
Dewhurst paid a cable company to run a line into her place in Houston so she could watch him get sworn in and give his speech afterward.
Dewhurst often speaks of his mom with deep affection, recalling that he was only 3 years old when his father was killed by a drunken driver. That day, his speech began on a personal note.
“I said words to the effect, ‘Mom, it’s David, your oldest son,’ because it’s always important to remind her who we were.”
After mentioning other family members who had joined him that day, “I said I just want you to know that we love you.”
In his first quiet moment afterward, Dewhurst called and asked Ruby, his mother’s caretaker, to put her on the phone. What, he asked, did you think of the speech?
“There was a pause, and she said, ‘What speech?’ And I said, ‘Ahh, it’s not important, dear. Not important.’”
When Ruby came back on the line, Dewhurst asked if she remembered to turn on the TV.
“She said, ‘Oh, sure. Halfway through the speech she started crying, she started waving at the TV,’” Dewhurst said, his voice breaking as he struggled to continue.
“So, as far as I know, in her last four or five years of her life, that’s the only time that she recognized me.”
Martha Harris Dewhurst Nevins Wing died in 2004 at age 84.