|Katie and Lauren Gieseke
Carole Gieseke is the editor of VISIONS Iowa State University Alumni Association’s quarterly magazine a position she has held since 1997. Prior to that she was director of publications at Northwest Missouri State University for 15 years. An avid reader and hiker Carole is the mother of two daughters Katie and Lauren.
When it came time to place some information about their mother on the Plaza of Heroines Katie Lauren and their father Dave could think of no better way of describing Carole than her award-winning column that appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of VISIONS. One brick at a time by Carole Gieseke My daughter Lauren called me at work the other day. Normally this would be a routine phone call saying she's home from school but this one hit me like a ton of bricks. "Hi Mom" she said cheerfully. "I just wanted to tell you we were reading this book at school about fear and my teacher asked us to write about our biggest fear and mine is that you'll get killed in a car wreck but I didn't know if death was appropriate at school so I said my biggest fear was bees." She paused just long enough to take a breath. "What's for dinner?" Well. Only a 10-year-old can place the same level of emphasis on food death and insects.
Still it made me think. I'm aware of my own mortality but it's not something I usually dwell on. As a child I grew up in a home where death was sort of normal. My father was a funeral director. Death was how he made a living. Deep down my sisters and I probably knew it was weird to be dropped off at school in a hearse. But there were perks. We had fresh flowers in the house year round. And in junior high boys thought I was cool because I had seen dead bodies. At 13 I didn't hold a lot of allure for the opposite sex so I used what I had. Anyway growing up in my family made me pretty realistic about death. One minute you're alive the next you're dead. Poof - just like that. The one thing that gnaws at me is this: How will I be remembered?
Because after all that's the only thing that really matters. We all leave a legacy of some sort - or at least we try. We can't all create artistic masterpieces or write symphonies or discover the cure for cancer but we can all leave something behind. Magazines aren't exactly an enduring legacy - this one's probably starting to biodegrade as you hold it in your hands - but at least they're tangible. I hope to leave behind the world's largest collection of Christmas tree ornaments and my kids will either love me or hate me for it. I hope too to leave behind a little bit of myself in each of my daughters and with any luck they'll end up with more of my endearing qualities than my annoying ones. Ironically it was my daughters who invested in a legacy gift for me on my last birthday. They bought me one of those engraved bricks in the Catt Hall Plaza of Heroines. (Irony within an irony: If when I was a teenager you would've asked my older sisters to predict the future they would have told you I'd be more likely to become addicted to heroin than become a heroine to anyone.)
But it's true - right between Joan Kelly and Eden C. Dutcher on the northwest side of the plaza there I am carved in stone for all the world to see forever and forever and forever: CAROLE GIESEKE EDITOR/MOTHER I think it's cool that the brick is a permanent part of the university and that people are walking on it every day. Okay birds are probably pooping on it too but really I'm okay with that. Like I said I'm a realist.