Mustang Sally

I graduated high school in 2004. It was a pretty good year, finishing high school and on to the new and more exciting life of college. My parents were super excited for me and so proud at how well I had done in high school. I was 17 years old and I drove a Chevrolet Cavalier that I'd gotten for my 16th birthday. I'd always been obsessed with Mustangs though, and I wanted one so bad. So, so bad. Specifically an older model - a 67 Convertible, red with a white or cream top. Ooooooooh baby.

So, my dad made me this little deal. He told me if I got a free ride to college, he'd buy me my car. He however did not want me to be driving an older one no matter how refurbished because he felt they were lacking in the safety features of newer vehicles. So, the agreement was a free ride to college would lead to a brand new Mustang. Who can argue with that?

I busted my butt on scholarship applications all of senior year. I didn't want student loans. No amount offered was too small and no essay requirement too long. If I met the criteria, I was applying.

I ended up with a full ride to college and so dad (and mom too, of course), holding up on his end of the bargain, took me to the Ford dealership and home we went with my new car.

I named her Dorothy (Dodo for short haha) because she was ruby red like the slippers. She had a tan top, leather interior. V8 engine and manual transmission. She was lovely. Of course I drove her everywhere, she was my car (and we'd traded the Cav in).

In 2008 upon graduating from college, I started working at the Army post near my parents' house. On and off post Dodo and I would go every day. We'd go to the PX on lunch, and one fateful weekend in August, we went to the bowling alley.

That weekend, we came across a gorgeous Marine. A group of silly Marines actually, but one in particular that would change my life. After the bowling alley closed, the Marines and I were headed to the rec center a few streets over to keep hanging out. One silly Marine walked me to my car and I offered him a ride. Two more silly Marines jumped in the back because the top was down. I had to tell them to get off the back and put their seatbelts on I was not getting a ticket on post! My Marine gave the other 2 a dirty look, he wanted to be with me by himself. I drove us over to the rec center. The other guys went ahead and me and mine hung back. As we started walking over, the other guys called up and said we couldn't go in, the Marines had to return to the barracks. My Marine asked if he could kiss me. We stood there next to Dorothy and the most magical kiss I've ever experienced happened. I drove her home that night. It wouldn't be the last time I drove on post to hang out with Jonny.

The guys didn't have cars since they were still in training, so I'd go pick them up when we wanted to do stuff off post. Usually in Dorothy, sometimes in one of my parents cars if there were too many hanging out that night. We would pile in and head to whatever we were up to. I'll tell you what, a Mustang full of Marines sure shows it's weight, poor Dorothy would seem to jump up in relief once everyone climbed out!

That car was with me when I met my sweetie and she was our main transportation in the early days of our relationship. Maybe TMI, but chances are high that our beautiful daughter was created on the smooth cream leather of that pretty Mustang...

Months came and went and Dorothy and I drove down to North Carolina. She had a new friend, a nameless Toyota truck, but she was still my baby and my main mode of transportation. The truck was Jonny's.

Then Ariana came. The carseat barely fit in the back and I just wasn't comfortable with my precious cargo in the back of a 2 door car with a cloth top. As much as I loved my beautiful convertible, I loved my baby's safety more. Jonny and I talked of trading in the Mustang for a more family friendly car like a small SUV or crossover. Jonny said a new Camaro would be a nice surprise for him when he came home (trade my baby for a Camaro?! HA)! I started looking at different options but it was just so hard to part with that car, the truck now became my number one transport and was super handy with all the extra room (I wouldn't even dare try to fit a stroller in the Mustang...). I figured we'd figure out the second car situation when a second car was necessary.

Then Jonny died. There were so many memories in that Mustang, so many with him, how could I let it go? I could look at that car and remember different times we went out, different things we did. He loved that car, I retaught him how to drive stick in that car (he'd learned once before but was rusty so he relearned). We did sooo much in that car. If I let her go, even though I had really stopped using her, would I lose those memories too? She just sat, she'd get taken out every so often when it was just me doing something. The tires always needed air and more often than not she'd need a jump, but at least I could see her, at least she was there with her memories.

I had her shipped up to Maryland when we moved and she's sat. I think I've driven her maybe twice since we got here. So today, I did it. I finally parted with my car (ah, finally we've reached the point of this long story personifying a car!)

I sold my Dorothy today. The dealership was happy to take her. And guess what? The memories are still there! Nothing left with her, except the insurance to keep tags on and the space being taken up in the garage and the idea that maybe I'll drive the Mustang today.

It was a big step. I know it sounds stupid. It's just a car, it's just a material object. But I've said before, I hold on to these material objects like they might bring me a piece of him. The truth is, I don't have to feel the leather or hold the steering wheel to remember.  All I have to do is close my eyes and think. I feel almost as if a small weight has been lifted. Moving forward doesn't mean letting your loved one go, sometimes you have to let go of some things, but it doesn't mean you'll let go of the memories or the feelings.

And maybe now, she will provide her new owner as much joy and as many awesome memories as she did for us. Maybe she'll belong to another headed-to-college kid, or maybe someone going through a midlife crisis. Maybe a Mustang aficionado or someone who goes to the track. Maybe a mom who wants a "me" car or a 20s something guy who wants to pick up chicks. Who knows, I just hope they treat her right, she sure is a great car (haha gosh I sound like I got rid of a pet or something).

So Dodo, it was a great eight years. Thank you for being such a sweet ride!


  1. All of these memories will continue on. You have told all the stories as they had happened yesterday. Hold onto this picture and writing. They take up less room ;) By the way I love your art in writing. You are very good at it.

  2. I cried when I got rid of my Jeep. It was MY car. I paid her off (ok, I had a little help, maybe Kent made the last FEW payments), and I loved her. She was fantastic, I drove that car into the ground (and so did Kent once he got his hands on it). I drove it from illinois to virginia to kansas to florida, then to washinton. It has literally been all the way across the united states. I sold it to another soldier, and I made him promise to keep her in good shape before I handed the keys over. He looked at me like I was crazy. There really is a bond that forms with your car, as silly as it might sound.

  3. I met you at the service for our fallen hero's, the service that took place in May...your baby girl was so tiny and beautiful. After I left NC I came across your blog and I have followed it since then. I just want to say you took a big step in selling you're vehicle and that todays blog was worded very lovely...

  4. Awesome post!! Thank you for sharing. :)

  5. I ABSOLUTELY understand--my husband and I bought our first car in December, a 2007 Mustang (black, not convertible) and I didn't think I could love a car until I got it! It has a lot of memories for us too, it's taken us on some of our amazing journeys out here, and it's really can definitely find a place in our hearts, especially when connected to those we love. But you're right, the memories will always be there, long after the car is gone!

  6. I love reading your blog.

  7. I had such a hard time getting rid of the car David and I became an us in... I was mad at my mom when she sold it.

    Did you get a new car? or just sell the car?

    Oh, so I got Roger to ease up on the sucking, usually he'll try and I say no. This morning after David left for work I was curled up with my body pillow and I think he thinks the pillow is his mommy. He was trying to suck my hand while he snuggled the pillow.. lol... I had to throw him off the bed! hahaha!

  8. Wow, that's a big step. And what a great reminder that things are (in the end) just things. Jonny will always be in your heart, no matter what you drive :)

  9. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing. I love your blog, but I have one complaint...I wish you'd blog more often! Have a wonderful day, and God bless you and your little girl.

  10. She was a beautiful car but I am happy for you that you were finally able to pass her along to a new family.

  11. It has been a while since I read here and I am so glad I did tonight! What a great post...not at all stupid to be feeling that way about your 'stang. I wish I could buy your car for my daughter...(she's only 14 though!) But she is all into fast cars...bless her heart, she is her Momma's daughter:) And she would totally appreciate the "back story" of it.
    It is crazy the emotional attatchment we put on material things, but it is just human nature, especially in certain situations. We fear that we will loose our connection to whatever person or event we are trying so hard to hold on to. A few years ago I lost my purse. In it was a tailisman that my Daddy brought home from WW2, given to him on the streets of Italy by a young boy during the war. My grandmother said it was what kept him safe and brought him home to her and the family. I know it was stupid to carry it around that way, I guess it should have been locked in a safe box somewhere, but I carried it with me that way because I wanted to be close to "him" was just leather and paper, but it was him, his history, my history...I grieved over it for months, still do. My Daddy was 20 years older than my Mother (which is why I have a 14 year old and a father who was in WW2:) and he is gone now too...which makes the fact that I lost it even worse.
    Some "things" just hold thoe memories for us...not stupid at all!

  12. I could see how this must be emotional. that was a pretty car

  13. Awe, I needed this post today. I too feel like I need to hold on to the material things, because that sometimes feels like all I've got left of my son, but your post reminded me that isn't really the case. Thank you for sharing. Best of luck to you. I think of you often even though I only know you through your blog. You are doing such a great job in a tough situation.

  14. I understand how you feel, Mrs. P. You and your Mustang shared a lot of beautiful memories, so it’s only understandable that you found it hard to part with it. But hey, think of buying a new a car as opening a new chapter in your life. You and your daughter can make new memories and start a new life together, without of course forgetting Jonny and your old Mustang.

    Ernest Houston

  15. Wow that was so sad. I'm sorry to hear that - I wasn't expecting that at all but the good things about the partner of a soldier of any kind is they are normally the stronger ones. Not saying they don't have weak moments but just a little stronger. I believe letting the car go was a huge step for you! Praying helps. Good post today, sad but good.

  16. One step forward.

  17. Beautiful post! These material things do seem so important to us until we let them go and realize that we really aren't losing the most important part of them - the times they remind us of and the people we made those memories with.

    This is a fantastic example of a strong widow using her Crazy Courage to get through a rough time :) Congratulations on this big step in your life!

  18. seriously, even when writing about a silly car you almost have me bursting into tears. Despite it being about a car that was an extremely personal post. thank you for sharing and allowing us a peek into your soul. Your love for Jonny comes through even in a car. That's some powerful stuff. Even without the car those memories will live on through you for your daughter. Big hugs and love.

  19. I understand ,selling your car “ Dodo” was hard on your part. This vehicle had witnessed the significant moments in your life. The memories that it gave you is priceless and no one amount of dollars can replace it. It is so heartwarming to reminisce the first day that you met your husband in this car. This car has played a vital role during your courtship days and your relationship blossomed in this car. Although you already sold this car which has been a witness to your wonderful love story, it does not necessarily mean that the memories that it brought will fade. Life must still go on!

  20. I understand that selling your car “Dodo” was hard on your part. This vehicle had witnessed the significant moments in your life. The memories that it gave you are priceless and no one amount of dollars can replace it. It is so heartwarming to reminisce the first day that you met your husband in this car. This car has played a vital role during your courtship days, and your relationship blossomed in this car. Although you already sold this car, it does not necessarily mean that the memories that it brought will fade. Life must still go on!

    Patrick Gauer

  21. I accidently stumbled across your blog quite by accident and couldn't stop reading your wonderful posts. On one hand I felt as if I were intruding, but on the other hand, as the wife of a Soldier who has served for 21 years, I couldn't help but stop the tears from falling as I wanted to reach out and hug you because our unit has lost Soldiers as well. I am so very sorry for your loss, and I cannot ever tell you how heavy my heart is for both you, your beautiful Daughter and your entire Family. I can sense that Jonny was an amazing husband, friend and Marine and I hope that you know how many people are out here thinking of you without you being aware of it and praying for your comfort. It is because of the many Deployments that Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen such as your Husband and mine have gone on, that I am actively involved in trying to help the children adjust to not having a deployed parent home.Small Children don't understand the sacrifice that was made but I know that your Daughter will grow up learning about what a wonderful father she had and it is evident from the way you describe him that you were madly in love with him and that is more important then anything in the world. Please accept our condolences, even as they are so very late and know that from one service member's family to another, we salute you and your sacrifice.


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