Longform

The Life We're Handed

Page 7 of 7

The governor, and the several cabinet members who make up the state's clemency board, sat waiting in a paneled room. Pittock's hearing was perfunctory and brief, and not quite what he'd expected. He didn't really know what to expect.

A few months earlier, Pittock had applied for and received formal clemency in connection with his decades-old smuggling felony. Last Thursday Governor Chiles recommended a full pardon, and with it the restitution of his voting rights, his right to own a gun, and complete cleansing of his record.

Time can't bring back his son's hand or his wife's love, but in the Sunshine State of second chances, time occasionally wipes the slate clean of less important things.

"Religiously speaking, forgiveness is divine," Pittock says when pressed. "I guess they think society should forgive you too, at least after this many years. Not to sound philosophical or anything. Hey, maybe they're just trying to throw you a Milk-Bone for not pissing on the carpet."

Asked why he waited this long to do away with his criminal record, Pittock employs the second person: "It's part of a reorganization of your life. Trying to clear up things in your past. I'm getting older, and I'll tell you: lately I've started looking at older people. They're not old for long. Your midlife comes and kind of stays around. Old age is only there for a couple of blinks.

"The guardianship has something to do with it, too," he adds. "I don't want Jean's lawyers bringing this up anymore, implying I'm somehow involved with drugs because of what I did 20 years ago."

On the phone from Atlanta, Pittock notes that Alexander turns 14 years old next fall. At 14, his son will have a better legal standing to offer the probate court an opinion on who should be his guardian and how the money in his trust accounts should be used.

Pittock also mentions that he wound up buying his son the red motorcycle.
"He rode it for the first time the other day," Pittock says. "Didn't get it out of second gear -- not because he couldn't but because I really wanted him to take it easy. He needs to learn how to control the thing with his disability. The steering and balance isn't the problem, it's his grip. Most people can grab the handlebars and hang on, but he can't do that the same way. He takes his hand and rolls it up and down on the throttle. He's never going to be a famous dirt bike racer, but he can have fun with it within his limitations. I guess that's all any of us are doing anyway."

Contact Sean Rowe at his e-mail address: [email protected]

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Sean Rowe