Mothers and Daughters – A Different Kind of Love Story – Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

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Of all the roles women are required to fill in this society, daughterhood is universal.

Is there a daughter who didn’t devolve into tears after having watched Bright Lights,  Fisher Steven’s brilliant documentary on the remarkable relationship between Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, which he called  “a different kind of love story?”

A woman’s stormiest love affair, its been said,  is the one all daughters have with their mothers.

What tugs at our hearts watching these two Hollywood legends engage, is the gut wrenching recognition. The primal power of a mother and daughter’s aching love and dependence is exquisitely reflected in these larger than life but profoundly real women.

Glitz and glamor aside, that unique mother daughter bond, layered and loving, fierce but often flawed, punctuated by trials and tribulations is one most women can understand.

Our Mothers Daughters

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My own mother wasn’t a Hollywood star though she is surely a legend in my life.

Her ofttimes off  key voice didn’t stop her from singing, filling the house with equal measures of love and out of tune show tunes. Dancing was strictly for Bar Mitzvahs, and the closest she got to appearing in a movie was courtesy of a hand-held 8mm Bell and Howell home movie camera. But to me, especially as a child, she was a dazzling star, my child-like gaze followed her with the watchfulness of an obsessive fan.

In the years before I went to school I shadowed my mother everywhere she went.

I was Moms faithful sidekick. I was her  Boo Boo to her Yogi Bear, Tonto to her Lone Ranger. My life orbited around my Mother and the gravitational pull was strong. Within her sphere of influence I was a contented little satellite, spinning wherever she went, my movements carefully and lovingly monitored by a watchful eye.

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But the universe would change in time.

I would want to spin off into my own orbit.  I might dare move into a world in which my mother might seemingly play a tertiary role. Used to  being in a starring role, there were years  I suspect, when Mom felt she was relegated to the bleachers, a stand-in, a mere bit player, summarily called for to appear, just as summarily dismissed.

She who was essential , whose life revolved around mine  just as in equal measure I was sure mine had revolved around hers, suddenly spun out of orbit into my own world, a different separate universe,  one that didn’t include her all the time.

Naturally, in time the universe had a way of spinning back to its original configuration. Once again I became my mother’s side kick, shadowing her wherever she went, attuned to her every need as astutely, lovingly and fearfully as she had been to mine.

In the end we each take our turn as caregivers, it’s just a matter of who’s watching who.

Like Mother Like Daughter

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Debbie Reynolds , Eddie Fisher and baby Carrie

While Carrie Fisher was a teller of truth, her mother belonged to the world of myth-making. Carrie  often spoke of her childhood preening for perfect pictures of her perfect family for the paparazzi.

And why not?

Picture perfect images of mothers and daughters  filled the pages of magazines  through much of mid-century America.

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover 1940 Illustration Al Parker

The media had a  field day presenting us with idealized representations of proud mothers and aspiring daughters, always in unison, none more memorable than those covers from Ladies Home Journal that were an homage to the sweetly sentimental world of mothers and daughters.

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Mothers and daughters were clearly tied together not only by their apron strings but the same set of cultural expectations. Not only did they share darling matching outfits but the same sunny enthusiasm for household chores. Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover Illustration Al Parker

Al Parker’s  illustrations for Ladies Home Journal were well-known to his readers for decades portraying mother and daughter in identical outfits pursuing recreational activities together, whether  skiing swimming, or  baking always in perfect unison and in matching outfits.

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover Oct. 1939 Illustration Al Parker

 

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover Illustration Al Parker

 

 

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover June 1946 Illustration Al Parker

 

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover October 1941 Illustration Al Parker

 

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover December 1946 Illustration Al Parker

 

1Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover Illustration Al Parker mother daughter skating

Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover Illustration Al Parker

 

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Vintage Ladies Home Journal Cover August 1946 Illustration Al Parker

The message was clear- Girls would be cut from the same cloth as their Mothers.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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10 comments

  1. Pierre Lagacé

    I will send this to my wife…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Henry Joseph

    Great Post…So informative and filled with lots of facts and references. Fantastic.

    Like

  3. I think professional and layman alike would agree that Donald is a text book example of Narcissistic Personality

    Like

  4. Thanks for the Al Parker Illustrations. Those fantasy mother-daughter covers — Argggh! (I did like the one where the baby is pulling big sister’s hair — a touch of reality.) Every once in a while someone writes to Dear Abby, expressing expectations that her daughters will like everything she likes — cute little dresses, ballet classes, cooking, cheerleading…. in other words, that each will be a “mini-me.” I always predict many tears being shed, on both sides.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I noted that particular illustration too as being a bit less saccharine and more mischievous ie true to life. Although the domestic ideal has diminished there are still pressures for mothers to want their daughters to still be, as you so aptly put it, “mini me’s.”

      Like

  5. Beautiful and insightful. I love this paragraph: “I was Moms faithful sidekick. I was her Boo Boo to her Yogi Bear, Tonto to her Lone Ranger. My life orbited around my Mother and the gravitational pull was strong. Within her sphere of influence I was a contented little satellite, spinning wherever she went, my movements carefully and lovingly monitored by a watchful eye.”

    From watching my mother and sister, I realized her relationship with my mother was not only her closest but also the most difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

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