BERNADETTE CYNTHIA HEALY
I can see a young family, the parents cannot be older than twenty, and they have their parents with them. It surprises me to see them in a church, and I hope I am not being judgemental. The mother of the babies, there are two of them, has her hair tied up in a high pony tail, and she looks tired, despite the heavy makeup. The father looks bored, as if coming to church was not his idea and not something he really wanted to be a part of. The grandparents are probably quite a bit younger than my Polly and Jack, but they too look tired. I wonder if the two families are all living together, and assume they probably are.
I don't want to be caught staring so I move my head to look back at the altar. The inside of the church is rather spectacular. We're in Lent I suppose, because the altar is rather sparsely decorated, though I'm more interested in the Easter weekend than the giving up of something. No flowers adorn the steps and very few candles are lit, though that may be because of the sunshine streaming through the East window.
Lost in my own thoughts, I don't notice as Clare Miller creeps up to the side of the pew. It's not until she touches my shoulder that I realise she's standing right next to me.
'How did you enjoy the mass?' the unobtrusive smile is still on her face but I can't quite work out how I feel about her.
'It was really lovely, Father Thomas is such an enigmatic speaker, and so young!' I make the expected response.
'Yes, we were truly blessed when he decided to come and stay in our parish. He covered a few times for Father Donald, a wonderful old Irishman who had been Reverend for as long as I can remember. But the Lord wanted to take him home, and while he was sick we had Father Thomas, who loved us so much he decided to stay.'
'Yes, it's funny the way these things happen.'
'It is. Right, so I do have a few things I have to do this morning. If you'd care to assist me with making some tea and coffee and handing out biscuits in the park, I'd be most grateful, and then once we've finished we can go speak to Father Thomas about looking at those marriage records.'
Not once did she ask me whether or not I wanted to.
'Of course, that sounds wonderful. And we certainly have the weather for it,' I could barely believe how provincial and domesticated I sounded, but I kept my inner smile hidden from the steely eyed yet smiling Clare Miller.
I didn't really have a lot of time to think while handing out biscuits and refilling plastic cups of tea and coffee. The work wasn't difficult and I quite enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a few people who lived in the area, (no mention of an Albert or Eugenie Healy) especially as it made my appearance seem a little more innocent. I'm not used to this clandestine approach, I prefer facts and hard evidence to be sought after through lawyers and with warrants, but this isn't the occasion for me to use the full force of the law.