BERNADETTE CYNTHIA HEALY
As we flick through the pages of the 1961 records we are silent. January, February, March, April, May. Father Thomas is adept at running his fingers through the pages quickly and he correctly guesses the page that contains the latter days of the month of May. I don't know why, but my heart is more than a little excited at the prospect of seeing Albert Healy's signature in the flesh. In my head I'm still trying to devise a plan that will allow me access to his contact details, without bribing a man of God, but my heart is less calculated.
'Here,' the word is barely audible as Father Thomas whispers to himself, I'm sure he's forgotten I'm here as I watched his eyes scan the various marriages in the book he holds close to his chest.
'You've found it?' my voice cracks through the comfortable silence and I know I'm right as he looks up, puzzled by my presence. For a remarkable priest in the pulpit, his diligence is commendable if rather surprising, especially considering his youth, but soon the welcoming smile returns and he shows me the page I have been looking for.
'Here,' he repeats himself but at a much more dulcet tone. His trimmed fingernail points to the date of the wedding and then to the signatures of the husband and wife.
Albert Healy. Eugenie Healy. She signed the legal document with her new name, a signature that looks well-practiced.
I wish I could take the documents to be photocopied, but they are not mine to make use of, how and when I please. Father Thomas I'm sure can see the gleam in my eye as I realise that I am on the right track, but he waits for me to react before raining on my parade.
'May I?' I ask to hold the documents so I can study them with my bespectacled eyes.
Father Thomas nods and hands the book over to me. I am engrossed in my thoughts, but not so much so that I don't notice the Reverend (Priest?) make a note of his own in a little brown notebook. I don't want to question his intentions for I know that mine are less than honest, but I can't help but wonder what it is he is writing down.
The pages are creased and have turned that coffee stained colour, but the handwriting is legible and the facts are irrefutable. Not only are the bride and groom's signatures here, but a second Mr Healy has signed his name, and a Mr Barnet, whom I can only assume is the father of the bride. I know my eyes are wide in disbelief, but I know to keep quiet about the whole matter.
For the first time in my life I pity the woman that made it her business to come between me and my husband. Her abandonment is no excuse for her behavior, especially as she never tried to prove the case to be so, but to leave a child alone after the horror of the Second World War is tragic and unforgivable.
I hope my face is able to hide some of the emotions I'm feeling, and I'm grateful that my line of work has in a prepared me for the more shocking and horrific human sentiment. I have witnessed very few of the capabilities of human kind, but I have heard more than my fair share, and this will now be included in that compartment of my mind.
Father Thomas has finished his own writings and watches me. I know I am expected now to give my thanks and I'm sure he even assumes that I will ask to borrow the documents, which was my intention until they gave me the information I desired. As a lawyer I am well aware it will not be enough to tell Bernadette Cynthia Healy's solicitors from Summerbees that I have found a signed document that proves her parents were still alive in the 1960s.
The Last Will and Testament doesn't mention finding her parents, only her brother, and I am no closer to obtaining his whereabouts, even with this successful mission. I continue to gaze upon the signatures and after what feels like a lifetime I notice that it was Father Donald who wedded the couple. At least I know from Clare Miller that's a lead not worth following.
There are four other entries on the page; a Mr and Mrs Wilson who were married the week before; a Mr and Mrs Carter who were married on the Friday, and then I notice there was a second marriage on the 20th May 1961. I check the details and this second couple were married only fourteen minutes later than Albert and Eugenie Healy.
Puzzled, I ask, 'Is it common for two weddings to take place in the same ceremony?'