The black 2003 Saab 9-5, with its sleek body and tinted windows, was given to us as a gift by my sister. Nanci told me that she wanted our daughter, Caroline to have it as her first car.
It was back in 2011, and Nanci was a just weeks away from dying while Caroline was just months away from obtaining her learner's permit. None of us wanted the Saab under these circumstances, but I accepted my sister's gift because it was willed to us - and you didn't say no to Nanci.
As a real estate agent, Nanci had spent most of her days criss-crossing Southern Rhode Island in her distinctly 'blacked out' Saab. She had convinced a local body shop owner to tint the car's windows a shade darker than was legally acceptable, and it added a bit of privacy and an air of mystery to the car - and its driver. She kept it polished and shiny and finely tuned. Nanci's neighbors likened it to watching the bat-mobile roar out of her garage at the start of each day and glide back in at its conclusion.
For me, there was an initial uneasy feeling about owning my sister's prized possession. The Saab was a huge part of her identity and daily life, and while she gifted it to us, it was a gift that came with strings of guilt attached. I couldn't help but feel like we were benefiting from the fate that befell my sister. I, all of us, would have gladly given it back just to have her back.
But, time passes and helps.
Over the last seven years The Saab has served Caroline and her brother, Danny well at a critical time in their lives, keeping them safe from others and themselves. The Saab has seen and done a lot for them:
Breakdowns and accidents
Designated drives Drives with other teenage passengers before they were legally able Trips to Sully's in the summer
Traction control in the winter
First dates and prom proposals
Road trips, solo and with their squad
Early morning rides - and sometimes late ones - to high school
Transportation to countless field hockey fields and ice hockey rinks
Scavenger hunts and squirt gun fights Rides with cap and gown adorned Rides to work Rides to college, stuffed full with laundry and food
Caroline and Danny are now almost 22 and 20 respectively, and I am grateful for the seven years, the countless experiences and the 175,000 miles (and failed inspections due to extra dark window tinting) that The Saab has given us. We recently took it off the road as it is dinged, dented and worn, and just too expensive to fix.
The Saab's life is over.
I opened up the trunk to make sure nothing valuable was left behind before it is hauled off, and saw all that remained was one of the "Nanci Millin" real estate lawn signs that was in the car when we first took it home back in 2011. Both Caroline and Danny left it there, all this time, as a tribute to The Saab's original owner.
I love that Caroline and Danny used the Saab as their own but never forgot that it was given to them with love, by their Auntie Nanci.
After seven years, there is no longer guilt about inheriting The Saab, only gratitude.