A Poem to my Grandmother, Eva Matthews Seed, 6/10/1903 to 11/2/1994
Written for her Memorial Service by Eva IV (Eva Auchincloss Petersen)
Oh, Granny don't you see, you've always been my champion
You never said "no" to me.
In your eyes I could do no wrong,
"You are so wonderful", was your favorite song.
When I was young I'd visit you for days,
In your beloved New York City, we would never laze.
Our day began with your favorite man,
Jack Lalanne and his white shepherd Sam.
This gave you your boost, not to mention fresh squeezed orange juice,
For our daily rigor, you were always full of vim and vigor!
Off we'd walk to a puppet show or other such event,
Then to a museum for time better spent.
Then off to story hour at the zoo,
And even a look at the polar bear too.
Years of fun and positive thoughts went by,
And we became even closer, you and I.
You gave me so much without expecting anything back,
You gave unconditional love never a negative wisecrack.
You taught me to keep a smile on my face, and to accept what comes with a shrug,
That what ever happens in life... No use saying "humbug".
In later years when I'd come spend the night,
You made such an effort to make dinner just right.
We'd go out onto the porch so that I could smoke,
We'd sit and we'd laugh and you'd tell me how to cope.
Then we'd change into PJs and climb into bed,
We'd turn out the light and that usually led
To just a little more talk and a few content sighs,
Then You'd say, "I think I'm ready to close my eyes".
Good night Granny I'd say, and so I say now,
Sleep peacefully and let me give you a vow.
I will pass on your wonderful spirit, especially to those near and dear.
You will be with me forever and that is most sincere!
Tales from Granny's Life or Why We Are Who We Are-Our Legacy
(Written for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Eva Matthews Seed by Eva Seed Auchincloss in remembrance of her mother)
Granny was the fifth child of six children: one older sister, Ruth; three older brothers, Paul, Ed and Bill; and a younger brother, Mark. Her descriptions of her childhood were among her happiest memories. There are two early childhood recollections that she often recounted. One was of her life in Grand Forks, North Dakota ( a place her father had chosen because North Dakota was statistically the healthiest state in the union and he had six children!). Granny moved there from Chicago when she was three years old. In Grand Forks, Granny's father was the respected minister of the First Presbyterian Church and her mother was "an angel and the most beautiful mother alive", never raising her voice with any of the children and supporting her husband as the gracious, intelligent and caring wife of a minister. They lived in a big house with a large barn on the property. The barn was turned over to the children where they, and many of the neighbor children, congregated to put on plays and performances of all kinds. It was a world of make believe, magic and games as well as lots and lots of love.
The other significant memory took place in the summertime when Granny's mother packed up the children and boarded the train for South Dakota where Granny's Chandler grandparents had a gentleman's farm. It must have been a big farm house for it accommodated not only Grandmother Matthews' family, but also that of her sister who had six more children plus their maiden sister and parents. Imagine twelve grandchildren descending on thm all at once and what a wonderful family reunion that must have been. However, there was also structure for the boys were all put to work in the fields and the girls around the house; sewing, cleaning, cooking and baking. Granny remembered the maiden aunt making three fresh fruit pies each day.
The next picture I have of Granny is in New York City. Her father and mother were both college graduates so it was natural they would want the same for their children. When the time came Grandfather Matthews moved the family to New York in 1918 where tuition to Columbia and Barnard for his children came with his appointment to the Greenwich Presbyterian Church. He later became President of the American Tract Society (Through confusion with the name Grandy thought Granny's father was in horse racing when they first met). Granny started off in a "finishing school" where she learned her "perfect" English. And where she met her lifelong friends Nancy, Linda's mother, and Helen Rosseau. The three became the most popular girls in New York being beautiful, smart, fun loving, confident and single.
It is no wonder Grandy fell in love with this popular, by then (1925), Barnard woman and swept her off her feet. And she fell for him; handsome, seemingly rich, and a Yale man! They married and children were the natural result. First two boys and then a girl and then another boy. (You know who they are). But with the children came responsibility and a few of life's blows. The crash of 1929 was first, wiping out Grandfather Seed's fortune and erasing any illusions Granny and Grandi had of great inheritance. So Granny went to work for her brother, Paul, which she thought was somewhat demeaning. She managed to get off the hook by becoming pregnant (with me). Life couldn't have been too bad for they still had two servants, but for extra money and the sport of it Granny took her little girl and, I believe, Bill into New York City to become models. I'm not sure how much we contributed to the family income, but I'm sure it was fun for Granny, ever the proud mother.
From New York the family moved to Toledo, Ohio for two years where Peter was born. Then on to Minneapolis where Grandy was Executive Director of the Minneapolis Civic Council, a nonprofit job. Until World War II this job paid a respectable salary. We grew up in big houses, with lots of room for toys, games and make believe. Granny (and Grandy) made sure her children experienced the same kind of loving, happy, carefree, but disciplined childhood that she had had. During World War II life became a little tougher, but then everyone was cutting back and supporting the war effort, so their growing poverty was not so apparent. It was after the war that the family began to truly feel the pinch. Grandy's salary did not rise with inflation. The struggle was on to cloth, educate and provide opportunities for their four children.
Granny was the ultimate trooper; making do in an old barn of a house, encouraging her proud and sometimes depressed husband, and calling on relatives to pay for our education. Ever the protective and supporting mother she gave us her unconditional love and attention. In return she asked nothing, but held the expectation and belief that we would live up to our potential. In her eyes we could do no wrong. A belief she held to the day she died.
This is the legacy Granny has passed on to all of us. Now it is our responsibility to keep it alive for future generations.
Thoughts Expressed by Other Members of the Family at the Memorial Service
Bill remembered his mother as a person he could tell anything. She would listen, respond with encouragement, wisdom and objective opinions, but never with judgemental or critical answers.
Peter expressed his thanks to his mother for giving him two great brothers and a sister and most especially for giving him Linda. In her wise way his mother had introduced him to the Aikenhead family and let him discover Linda.
All the grandchildren expressed the same memory of their grandmother as a person who believed that they were perfect, who would listen to their woes and comfort them, and who always built them up with encouraging words.
Peter Seed II remembered how his grandmother took charge of things, never hesitating to ask directions and talking to strangers even when they knew the answer. She allowed them to tease her and have fun. At the same time, she gently let them know that she expected them to have good manners, to speak proper English and to be thoughtful of others.
Allen remembers her indominable spirit.
EVA MATTHEWS SEED (daughter of Eva Chandler Matthews and William Henry Matthews)
Born June 10, 1903
Died November 2, 1994
Children: Allen Hartley Seed III, July 27, 1926
William Tripler Seed, November 17, 1930
Eva Standish Seed (Auchincloss), July 21, 1933
Peter Halleck Seed, June 7, 1937