Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In Memory of a Sister: Sally Giauque

Fall 2007
Last week, a woman died at 85 years old. Her name was Sally, and I met her when I was a sophomore in college and "went Kappa" - that is, joined Kappa Kappa Gamma, a woman's fraternity. Sally was one of the chapter advisers at Hillsdale College. An alumna of the college and chapter, she dedicated herself to our house and its members. She would arrive every Monday, in time for dinner and meeting, and stay in the guest room. She was stylish, smart, and was always reminding us of standards and how to be ladies.

I had a tough time being a Kappa the first few semesters; perhaps it is my penchant for not being told by other people who I am, and people like to label "sorority girls." Or maybe I never thought that I quite fit in, though I met a few of my best friends in that house. Or maybe I was just overwhelmed; I never seemed to have enough time to join in the more fun activities, as I prioritized school and the newspaper, accepting only required duties as my service and standard. Kappa wasn't what I expected of her, but maybe, as I thought later, I wasn't what Kappa expected either.

While I struggled with my collegiate career at Kappa, I always looked to Sally. She was a lady. She told us chewing gum made us look like cows. If we were late to meeting, she kindly informed us that it was better form to use the back door. How we dressed was important - and not for fashionable or keeping up appearances reasons (which I rebelled against): but because we were Kappas, and that was something to be proud of, and our dress reflected the care we took in our appearance, in our house, and in ourselves. This I could embrace, understand, and welcome.

Kappa Sal, as we called her
She married her college sweetheart (who died in 1981), and she would talk so fondly about him. You just knew their love was special. She just wanted the make the world beautiful, and that is the most important thing I learned from her: to do your little perfectly. Pick your battles, make peace, do good.

I always bit off more than I could chew, and that is why I struggled. When I started to let go of what I wanted, and started giving back more to the house, Kappa's beauty burst forth in front of me. Kappa is made up of many, many women, but none of them define her - she defines them. She guides them. She teaches them - through education, ritual, service and love.

Sally embodied all these things, and she gave me one more sisterly lesson: how to be a lady, and how to be a woman. This is something we females are not taught enough, I think, or have many proper examples of in our formative years. She was old-fashioned, and in the best ways possible.

There is no clear-cut recipe for how to be a lady and a woman, but it starts with humility, graciousness, asking for help, willing to help, saying the (sometimes) unwanted sentiment, and reminding others how proud you are of them and what good they bring to this world. When Sally stood up and talked, everyone listened. It was because of Sally's example that I wanted to give more back to Kappa, and I began writing book reviews for The Key, Kappa's magazine, after graduation. Writing is something I do, something I love, and something I can give back to Kappa. It is my little, and I strive to do it perfectly.

Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter house at Hillsdale College, circa 2010
Dream a while of Kappa ever true 
Dream of her and she will be with you 
Dream of friendships through the years 
Dream of days their joys and tears 
Now it's time that you and I must part 
So take this dream and place it in your heart 
Keep it dear until the time we will meet again. 

Readers, who has touched your life profoundly, and in ways you did not expect? I did not realize how much of an example Sally had set for me until she passed away on July 23, 2013, and I really began to think of her again. My consolation is that I know I made her proud, and I intend to give more back to Kappa in her memory - and make the world a more beautiful place than I found it, too.

Published in The Mirror Magazine

1 comment:

  1. This is a very nice tribute. I need a lady like that in my life!

    Is this Hillsdale College in Michigan? I have two online friends who went there, one of whom is now a professor there! Crazy!