When Hurricane Lyra blows into a room, it’s probably time to batten down the hatches. I quickly learned that 20+ years ago when we first crossed paths working at – of all places – Pizza Hut. When we met, Lyra was still in high school. She was a cyclone of hairspray. And her chattiness was known to reach gale force.
Fast-forward to 2018 … and only a few things have changed.
She’s still proud of her Filipino heritage, her ability to wear stilettos for any occasion and how she commands a room when she walks in to it. In fact, the only thing that can now top her whirling dervish spirit is her Category 5 kindness. I’m not sure when it happened exactly – but Lyra grew up and blossomed. She’s now a doting mom of two twin 17-year old boys and found her calling as a teacher for gifted and talented students and English language learners.
Yes, she still has big hair … but it’s now combined with an even bigger heart. Compassion has become her calling card. When my mom passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, Lyra was omnipresent. She knew the precise moment to swoop in with food, hugs or just some good energy. Even better? She knew when to disappear. During one of the most stressful few days of my life, Lyra wasn’t just a dear friend … she was an emotional support ninja. She was the Cruise Director of Catharsis for much of that week.
In the last few years, I’ve also gleaned Lyra could easily run a marathon. She has great organizational skills. (See what I did there?) For someone who’s not OCD, she’s the single most organized person I’ve ever met. Her to-do lists have to-do lists. She’s a cross-the-“T” and dot-the-“I” kinda gal. But forget her actually running. Bless her heart … she eschews most any form of exercise. Even walking around Des Moines’ epic Farmer’s Market can be a struggle without stopping for coffee and/or sustenance every 10-15 minutes. She’s a foodie. No wonder we’re besties.
Speaking of — if you’ve ever had a caffeinated conversation with Lyra, you know that she rarely uses consonants when she speaks. It’s a mixture of vowels and vocal inflection. Sometimes I have to translate for the Lyra-impaired. “HEYAOMAHGAH, WHAAHYAHDAHRINAH? LEZGEHSAHMOCOEE!” = “Hello. Oh my God … what are you doing right now? Let’s get some more coffee.”
And while I’m glad Lyra became a teacher, I think she missed her calling as an event planner. She can whip together a retirement party/baby shower/family reunion in .08 seconds. Just call her the Wingding Whisperer. I can’t be sure, but I think she has a stash of linen table cloths hidden around her house … one for every occasion. When I threw my Dad’s 90th birthday party, I remembered everything … save for decorations. Oops. With approximately two-hour’s notice, Lyra had whipped up streamers, balloons, centerpieces and swag bags. She made it look effortless … even though my forgetfulness probably caused her to have heart palpitations.
She also wins the prize for always looking 150% put together. True story — I’ve never seen Lyra look anything less than runway ready. Does she have bad hair days? How does her make-up always look perfectly painted on … even at 7am … on a Saturday? My dad refers to her as “Fancy” – which is the quintessential description. She accessorizes better than anyone I know. She can turn a scarf in to a headwrap, leg warmers or a bra if need be. She owns stock in Claire’s Boutiques. And – as God as my witness – she is unfazed wearing 6-inch heels to go grocery shopping. If a Spice Girl and drag queen had a baby – it still wouldn’t be as extra as Lyra.
The fact that she’ll cry when she reads this is the icing on the cake. For all of her busty bravado, she’s still an ol’ softie at heart. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with as much chutzpah as Lyra who’s still a sentimental sap. I liken her to Dorothy Zbornak on “The Golden Girls”. Appropriate – as it’s one of her favorite shows. She knows every episode by heart.
As I was putting the finishing touches on this blog, I got a text from her. It read: “I can’t focus and want ice cream.” That, my friends, is the story of her life … and the perfect ending to my ode to her.