By instinct, the Kathleen tucked herself into her husband's outreached arm. Her fingers went to her lips while his eyes stared deep into the face of the Colonel.
"Mr. and Mrs. McFee," the Colonel began in well-rehearsed pace, "I regret to inform you that Corporal Gordon Patrick McFee has died while in faithful service to his Queen and country."
The near silent sobs began in her heart while Mr. McFee gazed out the window as if to make it all go away. But it did not.
I offered the silent comfort that well-seasoned, well-tempered priests offer in times of shock and grief. The Colonel remained in stoic attention as if he were fulfilling his duty to be the granite stone in this collapse of human spirit.
"Colonel Beaverbrook. How did it happen? How did Gordie die?"
"In service to his country as do all honorable soldiers, Mr. and Mrs. McFee. But in your son's case, he was murdered two days ago. His body is waiting for you in the police mortuary in Glasgow. I am here to arrange for your transport there, if that is your desire."
I could tell that Casey was feeling compelled to ask further questions of the officer, but restrained himself for the higher calling of caring for his wife. Those questions would be not asked but not in these moments. There was an embrace. But then Kathleen broke away and asked for her husband's wallet. He handed it over to her and she opened it. She removed from its best keeping place a worn photograph. She showed it to me so that I might show it the Colonel. The photo was of young Gordie, a handsome, well-built lad with green eyes and flaxen hair. It looked to be too perfect to have died some young and needless a death.
Together we walked slow and painful stes back to the house, to the kitchen, where Kathleen made us honey and tea and Casey showed as scrapbooks that remembered days filled with hope and fair skies.
Eventually, when Kathleen went to wash away her tears, Casey resttored his role of protective father and began asking the necessary questions.