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  • Courtney Lyons

Sue to you, Mom to me

By: Courtney Lyons, Contributor


For much of the campus community, Sue Lyons is the omnipresent individual that sends automated emails reminding you to submit your timesheet or announce that payroll is complete: the unsung hero who ensures your bank account balance receives its biweekly increase. Since I work in the Writing Center, she’s that for me too. But, superseding those responsibilities, Sue Lyons is my best friend, role model, cheerleader and raison d’être — my mom.


As Canisius University’s beloved payroll manager, every student employed in an on-campus job or work study makes the trek down to Sue’s office in Old Main’s basement at least once. My mom has been praised for her patience with students as they navigate being a new hire, faced with too many confusing forms identified by seemingly arbitrary letter-number combinations. She’ll tell me, “I see you and your sisters in every student that meets with me,” which is the greatest influence on the welcoming and understanding disposition that I have seen in her for the last 20 years. Just because her daily workload is inundated with I-9s, W-4s and the like, doesn’t mean that everyone she comes in contact with are equally well-versed in financial jargon — especially not college students.


It would be easy to say that “no words can describe” my mom, but Sue Lyons deserves all of the dazzling vocabulary Merriam-Webster can proffer. I once wrote, “My mom is the kind of woman one could only fathom exists on the silver screen.” Upon subsequent reflection, Hollywood only depicts the cookie-cutter or infinitely flawed matriarch. None could ever encapsulate the Aristotelian “mean between two extremes” of Sue Lyons’s perfectly imperfect essence. No movie is going to show a mom that puts mayo in her hair when her daughters have lice so they are not embarrassed undergoing the putrid-smelling, utterly insufferable home remedy alone. Not even Greta Gerwig’s directorial prowess could portray how my mom offers the most insightful advice then effortlessly transitions to blasting the Bee Gees’s “More than a Woman” in the selfsame car ride.


Outside of the Controller’s Office of OM 004, Sue can be found going on “hot girl walks” around the neighborhood, completing jigsaw puzzles or hanging out with me, her favorite daughter (I think). Unless, of course, it’s Thursday night, which is reserved for a weekly dinner date with my father. After naming her three children after television characters, she will always end the night with ‘90s sitcoms. Her favorite TV show is “The Golden Girls,” which I find most apt as she herself is the most golden of girls (in terms of her benevolence and sagacity, not age).


Most college students would flinch at the prospect of their mother working at their college, for a parental presence contradicts the newfound independence college offers. I could not disagree more vehemently. There is nothing better than seeing her kind smile — beautifully unique in that her lips curve downwards — after hours of lecture. I am glad the rest of the campus community shares that sentiment. So when I tell people that Sue is my mom and they reply, “Oh my gosh, I love her!” I cannot help but respond with, “Yeah, I love her too!”

Although I aspire to be a lawyer, my most authentic answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is an awe-inspiring, ethereal, humble and intelligent woman, just like my incomparable mom.



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