It was Kathleen who started the courtesies. "Reverend, who might this dashin' friends of yours?"
"Kathleen McFee, Colonel Beaverbrook."
"Please to meet you, Mrs. McFee."
"Oh please. Kathleen."
I noticed they both lingered a bit in the handshake and in their eye to eye. My years of hearing confession had cultivated a certain sensitivity about certain matters, so by instinct I jumped into the moment. "Kathleen, is Casey about?"
"Oh, to be sure. He's back in the wood shop."
'We do need to speak with both of you."
Kathleen received these words with the beginnings of a worried pause. I could see her begin to connect the visit of a Colonel, a military officer, and the direct tone of my request. "Follow me, Reverend." Though the question never came to her lips, I could see the thought in her worried eyes.
As we began the stroll along the path that circled the house and then the stand alone garage, Kathleen returned to cordialities. "Colonel, might I ask where you serve?"
Knowing the answer would lead her to the tough question, "Mrs. McFee, I am an officer with your son's regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland at Camp Andrews."
She dared not go further. She swallowed her fears and guided us to the one room workshop that was tucked behind the garage.
With one more long gaze into the Colonel's soul, she lifted the latch on the sagging wooden door, "Casey, we have guests." Those words ushered into a tiny realm of savory woods and vintage tools, and the sawdust remains of work well done.
'Ah, Reverend." The words jumped out a smile of a naturally gregarious soul, a hugger, a backslapper, a befriender of both kin and stranger. And he kept to character, leaving behind his sanding of a nearly finished ladder back chair to bestow upon me an unsolicited embrace. "And who might this dark haired stranger be?"
I spoke up. "Casey, this is Colonel Beaverbrook of your son's regiment."
"Oh, is he now?" Immediately Gordie's face turned to steel. This old veteran knew why officers came visiting the parents of soldier boys.