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"It has detachable daypack," said Chuck, grinning, "and a lot of pockets. Sometime, we'll go camping like we used to."

"Thank you, Daddy!" replied Charlie, hugging her father who was sitting next to her at the table. "It's really nice!"

Next came a birthday card from the absent Jerome. Charlie recognized the handwriting to be her grandma's. Inside, was a brand new hundred dollar bill. From Mrs. Jacobs, Charlie was given a beautiful handmade quilt. Charlie suspicioned that the reason for this very nice present was because she was Vera's granddaughter.

Scottie gave Charlie a cosmetic bag that his mom had picked out, and Sara's present was a silver plated bangle bracelet. Jeff and his daughter Debbie gave Charlie a nice purse with matching accessories, while Shirley's present was a pair of earrings and a matching necklace. Maggie gave Charlie a beautiful doll that Charlie knew to be from Maggie's own collection. She graciously accepted the gift, thanking Maggie for her generosity.

Next came Adam's present. Inside were three tickets to a piano concert at the Spencer Arts Cultural Building, celebrating the original music of Edward Johnston.

"Edward Johnston, himself, is the featured pianist," pointed out Adam.

"Edward Johnston is going to be in Palm Springs?" asked Charlie. "Wow! Thank you Adam! I've heard his music, but never in person!"

"Who is Edward Johnston?" asked Shirley, mildly interested.

"He's an extremely talented solo pianist who's beginning to make a real name for himself," replied Adam.

"He's very talented, but I don't think he'll ever hit legend status," replied Charlie, knowingly.

"What do you mean?" asked Chuck.

"Edward Johnston tries too hard to imitate Wallace Shipley," replied Charlie. "His latest album proved that. I heard one critic say that there were many imitators but only one Wallace Shipley. Edward Johnston could improve instantly, if he would just be himself. I've heard his arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon, and it was magnificent!"

"Yes, that was an excellent arrangement," agreed Adam.

"Oh," replied Chuck, not comprehending what his daughter was really taking about.

"Shipley is my mother's maiden name," pointed out Shirley, at last finding something in the conversation which she could relate to.

"When grandma was young, didn't people nickname her, 'Shapely Shipley'?" blurted Chad, suddenly remembering a private family joke. Shirley gave him a stop-and-desist glance, so Chad promptly dropped the subject.

Next, came Chad's gift-- a guide to the best hiking and camping places in Southern California.

"There's a great chapter just about the Mojave Desert!" pointed out Chad, enthusiastically.

Just then, the telephone rang. It was Mrs. Jacobs' sister in Topeka. When Mrs. Jacobs got off the phone, she apologized for leaving before the party was over, but her elderly mother had just had a serious stroke. She had to pack and take the very next flight to Topeka, so would everyone please excuse her. Vera escorted her friend to the door, and said a few consoling words.

After Mrs. Jacobs left, Vera announced that there was one more present to be opened.

Every nerve in Charlie's being tingled with excitement. Vera handed her granddaughter a gift-wrapped, sealed envelope which even Vera hadn't opened.

"What is it?" asked Chad. Surely, nothing interesting could be so flat.

"It's my Birthday wish," exclaimed Charlie, carefully opening the seal on the envelope.

"Birthday wish?" repeated Adam.

"Yes," replied Vera. "I wanted to do something extra special for this birthday, because it might be my last."

Suddenly, Adam Clark was extremely silent.
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