"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you shared with me today. You are a very special woman, and I mean that sincerely."
"Missy, when you finally find that man of yours that you are takin' so long to find, you make sure you look right into his soul before you make up your mind. Outward stuff don't matter none. He's out there waitin' on you, but sometimes you got to be waitin' on the right road, don't you know, so he can save you."
"There aren't many double-yolked egg men around, Mrs. Jefferson."
"But there are plenty of good honest men that just need a good woman to show him the way. But be careful, there is many a gal who waits for the perfect man and then when she finds him, she finds out that he is waitin' for the perfect gal."
We embraced again, then I thanked her again and went in search of Jeremias. I found him giving instructions to two big men who were busy barbequing a huge hog. When I got his attention I asked if I could speak to him alone and we walked a short distance away.
"I have something for you, Mr. Jefferson." I reached into my purse and took out the June, 1926 issue of National Geographic and turned to the article concerning genetic mutations. Part of the article discussed a young Egg Man in Alabama who had developed a strain of chickens that were twice as likely as most to produce double-yolked eggs and there, in a quarter page image, was Jeremias Jefferson standing behind his beautiful red and yellow pushcart.
"Well, I'll be," he said, then he reached in his pocket and withdrew the block of wood he had been whittling all day.
He studied it for several seconds, then he handed it to me.
"This is for you."
I examined the sculpted face carefully, and I knew exactly who it was even after all the years of aging had changed her features.
"This is Esther when she was a young woman?"
"That's a fact."
"Is she all you whittle?"
"Mostly. I tried other things, but I had to guess at them. I know her. I see her young face in my dreams. Right this minute I can close my eyes," he did so, "and there is her face."
"You are a very lucky man, Mr. Jefferson."
He looked at me with a wink. "It occurs to me, that the harder I work at somethin', the luckier I get at it."
We laughed together, then I thanked him and walked to the top of the rise. When I looked back, the whole of the Jefferson family stood as one and waved my farewell and I knew I would be welcomed back if I chose to return.
NOTE: I wrote the article, of course, but without ever listening to one inch of the taped interview. The image of Esther and Jeremias, and the cart full of children made a great cover for the magazine.
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