Dearest Taylor,

Your grandmother and I are worried.

Your first year in college was, by all accounts, a very, very good one. Not only did you make your grades and then some, you kept your golf scholarship and, we understand, the powers that be even fattened it a little because, well, because you kept your grades up. And then some. And you saved your parents from writing some big, big checks. And then some.

Of course, you continued to shine on the fairways and the greens, and then some, as we knew you would, as your benefactors in the athletic department hoped you would. Another trophy or plaque or three along the way, some nice write-ups, and then some, in this newspaper. Some attention from the out-of-state press, too, in states where your woods and irons took you and your team: South Dakota and Nebraska, Idaho and Ohio, Missouri and Montana and, oh, you’ll have to list them; we’ve lost count.

And speaking of count: that’s a big load you’re carrying this semester, and we don’t mean your golf bag. All those courses, those credit hours, each of them leading to the magic number that approaches even now, that diploma threshold at which you will arrive before you realize it. You’ve got some pretty heavy subject matter to deal with, and then some. Your M’Amie and I might help (or might not) with the English lit and the history stuff, but that calculus — you might have to swallow your pride and consult with your little sister, the family’s math whiz. Heaven only knows how you’ll manage your studies and your practice sessions and tournaments, and your social life, to include that handsome and very polite young man — what’s his name, Charlie? — who, owing almost certainly to his rearing, knows to stand when a lady sits and stands, a courtesy lost on most of his generation and too many of his elders. We’d say he’s a keeper, though it’s a bit early to think in those terms, no? No?

Okay, then, let’s talk about transportation. We’re not too worried about your being hither and yon behind the wheel, for you’ve been at that for a few years now, and presumably you learned your lesson (or so we pray) last autumn when that nice man driving the white sedan with the blue stripe and matching blue flashing light stopped you on the Interstate. But, really, 92 miles per hour? Not 72, not 82 — 92? That appearance before the judge that your very wise mom and dad insisted upon rather than simply paying a fine — a different sort of learning experience, courtroom as classroom, magistrate as tutor — did it take?

We are a little surprised that you informed your parents before you informed us. Be glad you did. And then some.

So, to the point: It’s not the coursework or the chip shots or Charlie, nor the car, that has us a bit on edge. When off you went last autumn, carrying all those hopes and prayers with you, we presumed (or trusted) that you would be safe living away from us for the first time, secure amid all the supervisors and campus cops and alert stations, plus three suitemates and a steady, watchful Charlie at hand. Add to that the finest upbringing any young woman could hope for and what, other than 92 miles per hour, could go wrong? Plenty, and then some, but all went well. Except for that 92 miles per hour.

But now your living arrangement has changed. Off-campus housing! An apartment! Even with roommates, an — an — an apartment? We know, it’s not that from campus, but it’s nonetheless an — apartment!

Do you have an extra key in your purse? It doesn’t have your address or door number on it, right? And have you hidden one where no one would look to find it? And you don’t give your address to just anyone, right? And when you return to it after sundown, you will keep the car door locked until you look around, correct? And you remember that if you don’t feel safe, you probably aren’t; and that if things don’t look just right, they probably aren’t? Does your apartment door have a peephole, and are you using it every time, every single time, there’s a knock?

You are 20 now. You are worshipped and adored.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! (And then some!)

Love, Granddad