Appreciating My Own Debbie and Carrie: To My Mother and My Sister

I have just watched the trailer for Bright Lights, the HBO documentary about the relationship between Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and I was overcome with emotion. Why? Both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher have passed away recently, a day after each other, and I loved them both.

But even more than that, Debbie, Carrie and Carrie’s daughter, Billie, have been a public example of the great bond that can exist between mothers and daughters and it made me reflect on my own relationship with my mother and my sister. I group them together because of the large age gap between my sister and I, it has warped what would usually be a sibling-esque relationship into one that is more Gilmore Girl-like but she does not have to have the responsibility of having to be an actual parent (although she scolds me like she is one).

I adore Billie Lourd, I even dressed up as her Scream Queens character for Halloween last year, and the double deaths of Debbie and Carrie, I can’t even imagine the pain that she is in, to lose the two most important women in her life, only a day apart, to live in that kind of grief.

Mindy Kaling in her Proust Questionnaire in the September 2015 edition of Vanity Fair said that she believed her mother to have been the love of her life. She also said that she regretted not buying her mother, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2012, a Rolex. In a previous post, I wrote about why I wanted to spend more time with my parents and even though I have been attempting to do this, it is difficult to admit to the fact that there will come a time when I, too, will regret not giving them something or not talking to them about something. As much as I love having seasoned veterans as parents, I have to be aware of the fact that that means that they are a lot older than my friends’ parents and they are struggling with old age and I often forget this in my rush to live my best life now.

My mom is the toughest woman I know, she is neither vulgar nor extremely loud, but she is unconventionally strong. When you look at her (when she is smiling) she looks like a really sweet, well-dressed little woman, but if you upset her, she can bring you down with three sentences. I have seen her silence people with a look, fight her cause, walk through the toughest neighbourhoods, and demand respect from everyone from the beggar at our door to the shop assistants at the store.

But the strength I admire about her, is what she has displayed during the hard times. My mom does not run, she doesn’t search for bailouts, she sorts out her problems, she repays every debt, she takes pride in her independence and while she has always seen my father as her partner she is not wholly dependent on him and that is partly why he loves and respects her so. I am extremely spendthrift and I am more and more aware of how much money I waste on what I do not need and cannot afford, and I found myself listening to my mother’s teachings more and more during these times. There is much more I still need to learn – I prefer flight to fight, I am extremely scared of confrontation, and oftentimes I feel as if I’m weak when I should be strong.  This is part of my mother’s legacy, she talks a lot, she is constantly lecturing us and I know she often feels as if we don’t listen to her, but she fails to see that her life is lesson enough.

At my mother’s 70th birthday party, I gave the speech because I felt as if it’s important to give tribute to people when they are still alive to hear it, so that they know how much they mean to you. So a lot of what I admire about her I have told her and none of this is a revelation to her (she would tell you as much). And there is plenty more I have learnt from my mother – to help others in need, to give what you can, to say what you feel, to be true in your faith, to uphold education and knowledge, and one day I will probably collate all this into a book but I truly know that no other relationship in my life will ever be as close or as meaningful as what I have with my mother.  

Every since I started school, I have rushed home to tell my mother about my day and this has progressed to my working years that sometimes I feel frustrated when she’s not home for me to offload onto, I shudder to think that there will be a time when she won’t be there and won’t be able to tell her about my day, and that is what I fear above all else.

Just like Carrie recreated her close relationship with her mother with Billie, my mother also had a close relationship with her mother, my grandmother, and even though I’m not really the maternal sort, the one thing that would make me want to be a mother is the thought that I could replicate the same positive energy with my own child one day.

My mother and my sister are my best friends. They are the first people I go to when I am troubled (well some of the time), they are the ones I rush to share my good news with, and even though I have a host of friends, I never feel the urgency or desperation for their confidence or support like I have with my mom and sister. So much so that I opted to spend my 27th birthday with the two of them (and my dad, who I love and admire dearly as well, but that’s a story for another post).

My sister is a lot like my mother, but she is also completely different. She is strong, intelligent, resilient, skillful, compassionate and she’s extremely hospitable. But she is selfless beyond measure, the way she loves and cares for other people in her own effortless way is inspiring and unlike anyone else I know. Most of my time with her is spent in awe of her, and you can tell that everyone else that is around her feels the same way. I always feel as if I won the sister jackpot that God gave me the chance to have her as a permanent part of my life.

She’s been battling breast cancer the past few months (which she’s been writing about here), and she was diagnosed just one month after her wedding, and it kills me to see the woman that I idolise so much going through this but I don’t even see a sliver of weakness from her. She is positive through it all, she hasn’t used her illness as an excuse to treat others any less than she has previously. She is her cheerful, loving self through it all and it has been a beautiful lesson to witness. I know she’ll make it through this, she did not deserve this pain and I will always be angry that she had to go through this, but I know that this journey won’t define or change her, she will continue to grow through it all.

I know how lucky I am, to have grown up in the shadow and alongside these great women. Most of who I am and who I hope to be is a testament of the family that has supported me. I spend a lot of time complaining about them, getting annoyed at them over petty things, that I sometimes forget to be grateful for how they love me, how they support me and how much they have taught me by their actions. Before it’s too late, this is my testament to them.


More about Caryn

Journalist, Reader, Dreamer, Fangirl, Defender of the Weak (and that's just my formal titles). I hope to one day take over the world or marry Tom Hiddleston.


  1. Reply

    Heart-warming post. Did you mean “spendthrift” instead of “spindrift”?

    1. Reply

      Urgh yes, thanks so much for spotting that!

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