I’ve written about my grandfather before. I’ve talked about him – all the time. You don’t really know me if you haven’t heard me mention Mr. Bennie Pitt, the consummate, hard-working, God-fearing patriarch of our family. He raised us in Tarboro, N.C. with a firm hand and a demeanor that put the fear of God in any potential suitors the entire time I was in high school.
I called him Paw-Paw. All my friends called him Mr. Bennie Pitt – yes, all three names, such was their respect. He called everybody Charlie, no matter their name, and they always answered.
Every time I came home, we sat on the porch and talked about my adventures. And he always asked what kind of car I was driving. He bought me my first car, a Ford Maverick, but he didn’t fuss at me for driving a Honda. He would have loved that I am working in Detroit, where we write about cars all the time. He would have loved that I’m walking streets that Henry Ford and Joe Louis once walked.
He would have been 112 years old this year. I wanted him to live forever, walk me down the aisle at my wedding – if that ever happens. But he passed in 2000 and was buried on my birthday. I miss him all the time.
But he did get to kiss his granddaughter, hear stories about the famous people I let and ask me about my adventures, smiling as if he’d been there with me.
And I thank him for all that he put into me because all the success I have is thanks to the love and character he and Lowney Pitt instilled in me, that they put into my mother, Marva Jeanne.