My dad, my father, my rock, my best friend, my biggest fan. My support system in so many ways.
He made me the person I am today. He showed me how to be strong. He would sit with me for hours, and hours, and taught me everything I needed to know to be an independent successful woman, which I am today.
Every time I fell down, he just picked me back up. When I said I can’t, he said, “yes you can.” One day when I was talking about how many mistakes I made in my life, he said, "I make at least one mistake every day. As long as we learn from our mistakes, that's all that matters.” I said, "like what mistakes do u make?" He said, “I'm not telling you" and he really never did.
When I got my first job after I received my masters in social work, I was given 50 business cards on my first day. I went to visit my dad that day, and he asked me for 20 cards, which of course I gave to him. He handed them out to everyone he knew at Little Petes, and said, "My daughter just graduated from Bryn Mawr and got her first job at Wills Eye Hospital. Isn't that great? Here, take her card."
On January 7th, less than a week before he died, I visited him at his apartment, and he was lying in bed with his eyes closed. I laid next to him, in the other bed, and I held his hand. He opened his eyes, I was smiling at him, and he took my hand, put it up to his mouth, and kissed it. A few hours later, he squeezed my hand, looked at me, and said something like "nice tender touch"… and smiled. And those were the last words he said to me.
I am so lucky to have spent so much time with my father. Years ago, he asked me to call him every day. And I did. I feel so grateful for having such an amazing dad.
I love you, Dad. Rest in peace.
When I was in junior and senior high school – 1965 to 1971 – I occasionally asked my father about his childhood, because I was aware that he grew up in a different universe as the child of poor, unskilled Jewish immigrants in a nation that despised Jews. My father was willing to talk to me about his childhood, though in retrospect I now understand that he was selective in what he disclosed. Let me share four stories from those conversations:
- When he was a young boy, age 10 or 11, his parents allowed him to spend one summer at the distant Jersey shore washing dishes at a restaurant (a working vacation). One day, according to my father, his father Morris nonchalantly walked into the restaurant and ordered a meal. My father was astonished to see his father so far from home and asked Morris why he was there. Morris, a man of few words, replied: “I’m hungry so I thought I’d stop by.”
- As a teenager, my father worked at 30th St. Station pushing luggage for passengers. The other teens who worked there often confronted my father, calling him “Jew” in less polite terms. One day, my father told me, they finally had a brawl. Who won? who was hurt? how did my father fare in the fight? He would not say.
- When my father graduated from chiropody school in 1942 or ’43, he immediately went into the Service and into Officers Candidate School or OCS, a 90-day school to train 200 to 300 young men at a time how to be officers in the war-time Army. Every week, one Candidate was selected as the best of that week and given the honor of commanding the entire school during marching drills. One week, my father told me, he was called into the Ranking Officer’s office and told that he had been chosen as the best Candidate of the week. My father’s response -- to me -- was – did they make a mistake? Why would they select me? My father still could not believe he had been chosen; my father still could not believe he was the best.
- I asked my dad – how did you like the Army? (I knew he had been in harm’s way – a medical officer on Liberty ships, a medical officer in the invasion of Sicily, and he even injured his back and spent some months hospitalized.) I suppose I was naively looking for stories of heroism or danger or death. My father’s response to this question, however, was not what I expected. He told me he had enjoyed his time in the Army, that he had matured, made friends, and learned a lot.
What was my father telling me with these vignettes – about his own life (and the lessons he wanted to convey to me):
- Life is difficult and there are reasons to be fearful.
- But, you can overcome those fears and succeed, even succeed extraordinarily.
And my father did.
And we will miss him dearly.
Ed Seave had a big personality and a very forceful personality. My cousin Marlene, who couldn’t be here today called him the Patriarch of the Family.
He was cranky sometimes and stubborn and opinionated, but he was the most optimistic man I have ever known – and I think that can do, one foot in front of the other attitude propelled him to live long and to be as successful as he was in life.
One of the reasons that we have suggested a charitable contribution to the Heart Institute at Jefferson is that Dad had a massive heart attack in 1978 at age 57. He seemed sure that this wasn’t going to affect him in the long run – and he was right. He was a big fan of all the cardiac technology that happened to be developed in parallel with his disease and he listened carefully to his beloved Doctor Schwartz and was clearly right to do so.
Dr. Schwartz was only one of four people who could tell him what to do, by the way, who he would listen to. Who were the other three? His good friend, Dr. Kitei, otherwise known as Uncle Milton – because god forbid a Jew had only one medical opinion. And our mother Shirley and our great friend Reda…. His kids? Not so much.
He was the man that many of his family and friends went to for advice and support.
He loved all of his grandchildren and took them seriously – talking to my daughter about her studies in art history, talking to Samantha, Clara and Sawyer about college, Shelby about her medical studies. Debbie’s four kids, Stephanie, Dana, Les and Sarah had the most benefit of his discussions since they are close by and kept him company in recent years as his mobility and memory failed. We do know that Grandpop Ed, might have been a tad critical from time to time – but he was so proud of each of them, giving me their news whenever I would visit. One time about 10 or 11 years ago, when Dana was just going to college, he called her “his alter ego” admiring how responsible she was.
Many relatives and friends have let us know how he helped them, very quietly without much ado. Barbara Wallner, Reda’s daughter in law; Billy, our cousin on our mother’s side who lives in Alaska – who couldn’t come, but his brother Paul is here; Aunt Esther, Dad’s sister, her son and Dad’s nephew Steven, and Dad’s cousin Sylvia each told me just this week about how kind he was and responsible he was over the years.
My father was the Presidents of the Cousins Club – not for his side of the family, but for my mother’s side of the family – OY. For Machutunim, that is amazing, right?
For my brothers and sisters and our spouses and our kids, three of us have had serious illnesses with members of our families that required a lot of time sitting in hospitals and waiting for results of tests, or dealing with scientific information. Dad was an amazing person to sit with you, to be a good sounding board, and to be able to hang out and talk about anything at all. He was so patient, it was a gift. And he was so optimistic! He “knew” things would work out.
For my siblings, my Dad and Mom were always very, very generous financially; of course, it was their pleasure to pay for all college, for all graduate school! And then as we starting forming families, they helped with mortgages and major appliances, lending a hand whenever some of us were short of cash for various reasons. Dad supplied jobs and gave job advice. He covered many of the college and graduate tuitions for the grandchildren. And in recent years, when each of us had our own charities, you could count on Dad on contributing to them too. Mark and Patti’s to ORT, Bruce and me to DeLaSalle, Meryl and Paul to Lucille Packard, Debbie to the school in Manayunk and Laurel House.
My mother was always worried that the four of us wouldn’t be friends when we grew up. So after she died, my father started taking vacations with our families to some place warm at Christmas so we would see each other at least once per year. My father paid for those that needed to be covered.
So, that Communist Hebrew school he went to – yes, this profound capitalist had a serious Yiddish Socialist background -- really had a profound effect: From each according to his ability to each according to his need. And my father had enormous ability and generosity of spirit.
We had him for a very, very long time – but he will be sorely missed.