Mary Bromer sat on the edge of her bed, looking at the envelope for a moment before pulling out the letter contained within. Slowly, she read:
Happy Birthday!! They sure catch up on us fast, don't they? Karen and I are really looking forward to your 50th birthday party. (She keeps saying, "Wait until she sees what we got for her!!) Gotta love the kid, I know I do, and I'm not just saying that because I'm her father. I'm so proud of her, she's doing so good in her class, and her teacher told me at a PTA meeting about a week ago that she's reading at a much higher level than most first graders can. I'm glad you got the school pictures I sent you, I hope you like them. She's as cute as anything I've ever seen, and I made sure to dress her in a nice outfit. (To be fair, she picked it out with me.) I never know what to do about her hair, though. I hope the ponytail in the picture looks good. I know that if her mom was still alive, it would have been styled better, but I try to do the best I can.
Anyway, like I said, she's really looking forward to seeing you again. I regret that we live so far away, if it were only an hour or so, we would hop in the car and see you every weekend. Living halfway across the country, though, makes things a little difficult, as I'm sure you know. Sometimes I find it hard to believe it's been four months since we last visited you. I am truly sorry for this, and so is Karen, believe me.
Which brings me to the good news!! We're going to be in New Jersey quicker than we thought, I finally persuaded Karen to get on an airplane, can you believe that? I can still see she's a little upset, they do scare her, but I've told her time and again that they're perfectly safe, and we'll be at Mom-mom's before you know it this way. So now, instead of arriving Saturday night before your party on Sunday, we'll be there Thursday afternoon!! Isn't that great?!
One thing, Mom. Well, actually a few things. I know you don't like hearing this, but Karen keeps wanting to call you Grandma. I correct her- I tell her to call you Mom-mom- but she thinks that's what a baby calls their Grandmother, and she would really like to go with the other name. I know that you think it makes you sound old (which I really don't think so) and all that, but please think it over and see it from Karen's point of view. She would be so happy to call you Grandma.
The last thing I want to say (this letter's longer than I thought it was going to be, and I still have to finish packing) is about Brian. I know we haven't spoken in a long time, and he's probably not looking forward to me being there at the party, but I would still like to talk to him. After all, he is my brother. I know what you said about letting him be, and working it out on his own time and all, plus I know he hasn't had such a good run of luck concerning jobs lately, but I think there comes a time when you just have to act. There's no reason why we shouldn't be talking; there's got to be some statute of limitations concerning a family grudge. So, I'm going to try to talk to him, to smooth things out. I hope you won't be mad at this, or me, but I'm not only thinking of our relationship, but the one he's missing out on with his niece.
Okay, enough said. Getting writer's cramp, here. (Just kidding.) Happy birthday again, from both me and Karen, and we'll see you soon!!!!
Your loving son,
Mary carefully folded the letter, being careful to use the same creases that she always used, and slid it back into the envelope. She sighed wearily, wiping a tear that ran down one of her cheeks. With a strained grunt, she stood up from the bed and positioned the envelope on her dresser next to the birthday card her neighbor had just recently given her (Happy 62nd!!! It proclaimed in shiny gold lettering) and the yellowed newspaper clipping of the plane crash (No Survivors!! It proclaimed in bold black ones).
Grandma Bromer took a cursory look in the mirror, absently patted a few stray wisps of gray hair back into place, and then made sure to check her purse for the guest pass that the guard would need to see at the prison. She glanced at the mounted picture frame of her granddaughter's last school picture, as well as the one of her two teen-aged sons posing together, then walked out of the bedroom to visit the only one she had left.