My SAAB Story

Most of my adult life I have driven Pontiacs. I have owned a Firebird, Grand Prix, Montana, and Grand AM. When I wrecked the Grand AM, I ended up with a 2000 Yukon XLT. It served its purpose well, with seatbelts for 8, I could haul the entire household with no problem. And in my opinion, it was much cooler than the Montana ever was. I just wasn’t a minivan kind of woman. I drove that Yukon for nearly 10 years. In January of 2013, my daddy passed away, I went into a severe depression. I was living on bourbon and chocolate. Every time I got in that big Yukon, I felt lonely. We only had one child still under driving age and only two children that were still living at home. So everywhere I went that bus was only half full or less. I told my husband I really wanted to find something smaller. I went to the dealership where my husband was employed. I walked into the used car showroom. There sat a black baby SUV that instantly called my name. I pointed to her and said I want that one. My husband said, that is a SAAB. I didn’t know anything about a SAAB, I only knew she was calling my name. I quickly learned that we could get a hell of a deal because she was one of two remaining SAABS on the lot. She was technically a used car because she had been sitting there for two years. When I got inside to test drive her, I immediately realized that the key fobs were in the cup holder “soaking” in two inches of water. The floor boards had water also. That did not deter me in the least, I figured a water leak could be fixed. I took her for a test drive and she never went back to the showroom. It didn’t take me long to become a true SAAB snob! Her odometer went from 150 miles to almost 33,000 miles in the 4 years that she was mine. The dang sunroof leak never really got fixed, just worked on 4 or 5 times. Water damage caused me to replace all sorts of parts.

The summer of 2013, my oldest son became my side kick of sorts. Still suffering from the depression of losing my daddy, I didn’t want to go anywhere alone. Zachary was always up for a trip to Wal-Mart, especially if it included a stop for food. We took many trips to Taco Bell, CVS, GameStop, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. He helped me name my beloved SAAB. We decided on Stella; as in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’. I wasn’t recovering from a divorce like the woman in that movie, but I did need to find a new groove without my daddy here on earth. My husband and his co-workers informed me that SAAB stood for Shit Ain’t Always Brown. Zachary helped me come up with a new meaning: Sexy Ain’t Always Brunette. He and I came out of Wal-Mart one day and we were sitting in the parking lot. I started the car but didn’t make a move to back out; I was checking my cell phone instead. Zachary said to me in his most serious, parental voice—Lock the doors; safety first Mom; you are not paying attention to your surroundings; anybody could jump in the car with you. Sitting at home when it was just the two of us, I would ask him if he wanted McDonald’s or Taco Bell. I would always say I’ll buy if you’ll fly. If he didn’t feel like driving, somehow, I would end up both flying and buying but at least he was riding shotgun. We went Christmas shopping together in early December, we were coming out of Staples when he noticed a young woman on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that read ‘my girls are hungry’. He made me stop so he could give her the last $3 in his wallet and then he asked if I had any cash because $3 wasn’t enough. I asked him how he knew she wouldn’t spend his money on drugs or alcohol. His reply was ‘how do you know she will’. Point taken so I gave him $10 to go with his $3.

He died by suicide on Christmas Day 2013 at age 21 while in his first year of college. My SAAB, Stella, is what I drove to pick up his ashes from the mortuary; it was what got me to the high school auditorium for his Celebration of Life Service; it got me away from the house when he memory was bigger than I could handle; and it got me home when I couldn’t stand to be out in the world. Sometimes while driving, I would catch a whisper of his voice telling me to lock the doors or catch a glimpse of him riding shotgun with his Spiderman hoodie. I could feel his presence with me and him giving me the urge for Taco Bell.

In the summer of 2017, my husband convinced me it was time to sell because the warranty was about to expire and parts would be unavailable if needed. I didn’t want to let her go but I relented and posted her for sale on Facebook in some SAAB groups. I thought I would be okay if a true SAABIE were her new owner. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t want to accept any of the offers coming my way; so, I removed all the posts. My husband still insisted that it was time to sell. He took it to the dealership where he worked and they put in on the lot under consignment. It broke my heart but logically I understood his point of view. By the time I realized that I really wasn’t going to be okay without my Stella, the dealership said it had an online buyer pending who was scheduled to pick her up in two days if he liked her in person. My husband said if that internet deal fell through he would bring her home and we could sell the 2017 Buick I was now driving. The powers that be saw fit for that deal to go through. Again, it broke my heart. I asked the dealership if they would contact the new owner and see if they were interested in returning it but they did not want to get involved. So again, I took it to Facebook and the SAAB groups. SAAB people are awesome, quite a few sent me private messages with information, suggestions, encouraging words and a lot of sympathy for my situation. Eventually, one person said they had a way of getting my contact information to the new owner. Assuming that they did get my information and heard my reason for wanting my car back, they clearly do not want to return it. A hard lesson learned on my part, but I understand. I am still in the SAAB groups on Facebook; I love seeing the posts and the photos. They are a very welcoming group of people. I may never own another SAAB but I hope they let me stay in the groups anyway. Until this heartache subsides, I will continue my daily Google of her VIN and my daily Google of ‘2011 94X For Sale’ to see if there is a chance for me to bring her home.

***VIN: 3G0FNREY3BS800427***


Waffle House

Our Waffle House tradition continues. I refer to the crowd as kids, but in reality they are now adults. I have known them all since they were kids. They are an incredible group of human beings. They will never understand the depth of my feelings for them. One by one they thanked me for inviting them; like it was a gift to be there. They are the real gift, the best gift. They have all been a large part of my grief process; they are a large part of my healing. They each carry Zachary’s spirit with them, just as I do. They prove to me year after year that Zachary has not been forgotten. They share with me the best stories and sing the praises of my Zachary and what he meant to each of them. They give me the gift of their time, their words, and their love for Zachary. My only hope is that we will still be gathering at the Waffle House when I am old; and that they will come with their spouses and their children. They are a testament to true friendship and a true commitment to keep Zachary’s memory alive. They are my heart children and I love each of them.


Four years gone by

It is so hard to believe that I have continued to breathe in and breathe out for four long years without you. I am living every parent’s worse nightmare. Survival is now my life’s work; learning to live without the irreplaceable presence of my child, trying to find any spark of joy.

Today I relive that horrible Christmas morning, you were missing, and then you were gone forever. I still have moments that I stare down the driveway, waiting hopelessly for your return. Life is cruel that way; your mind knows but the heart is unwillingly to accept.

You are in my thoughts everyday. Sometimes I see things I wish you could see. Sometimes I see things I am thankful you cannot see. Everyday I find strength to go on and learn that I am a survivor above all else.

I imagine what you would be doing, or what you would look like now. My dreams for you cut short by a cruel twist of fate.

You could never have imagined how much you are missed, and loved, and remembered. I don’t think you ever knew just how deeply you touched everyone who knew you. I don’t think you ever knew how truly important you were. 

This date on the calendar will always be hard and my life without you harder still. This is a big burden to carry but I blessed by so many who are willing to share the load.