They say that eyes are the windows to the soul.

My father’s eyes look different to me in the few pictures I have from his last years.

The one below gave me shivers when it appeared last week on Facebook.

The photo comes from the 1979 Lititz, Pennsylvania, high school yearbook, The Warrian.

Daddy’s last job, after he sold his cows and equipment and left farming to others, was to join this group of Warwick High School custodians.

I graduated from that high school in 1966, when Daddy was still a dairy farmer.

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H. Richard Hershey stands tall on the left side of this picture, looking directly into the camera. His eyes reach me from the grave. He’s been gone 35 years now.

Daddy looks healthy and strong on this picture, but already his internal organs were thickening, causing him to lose breath, get cold, dizzy, and faint.

Within a year of standing in front of that coat closet for a group picture, my father would be dead.

None of us knew that then. But something about this picture makes me think that his eyes knew. They make me forget the conflicts I had with Daddy as a teenager, documented in my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. They make me remember the timelessness of his best self, the kind man he was at his core, his spiritual center. I look at his face and remember words he often spoke to me. I can almost hear his voice:

“If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

What words do you remember from your father (or mother)? Have eyes ever spoken to you from a photo?

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