As a documentary living up to its title in nearly every way conceivable, HBO’s ‘Great Photo, Lovely Life: Facing a Family’s Secrets’ can only be described as equal parts baffling and haunting. That’s because it delves deep into photojournalist-filmmaker Amanda Mustard’s intense journey of uncovering the whole truth about her pedophilic maternal grandfather, William “Bill” Flickinger. It thus comes as no surprise there’s a focus on her mother Debi Mustard too — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about her as well as her current standing, we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Debi Mustard?
Although born around 1960 as one of three to Salesta “Lois” and William “Bill” Flickinger, Bedford native Debi never really felt comfortable, happy, or understood growing up as the only daughter. After all, according to the original production, she not just witnessed dysfunction from her parents on an almost daily basis but was also molested by her own father starting at the tender age of 5. He actually admitted to this in an interview with Amanda, stating rather casually she enjoyed it since they were in the bathtub, even though she obviously would’ve had no idea what was happening.
In fact, the earliest memory Debi has is from when she was 7 or 8: “All I remember is me laying face down on one of his chiropractic adjustment tables,” she stated in the documentary. “I felt him doing something on my back, and I realized that it was his penis. He was rubbing it on my back. I never thought in a million years, not even to tell my mom. I don’t know; from a child’s mind, it was normal.” It was only years later she realized it was abuse, and that too when there were public allegations made against her father in 1975 and a few jocks in her high school threatened to do to her what Bill did to other young girls.
Debi also said, “I think how I was raised definitely has given me a skewed view of what a marriage or a relationship should be. I was so sheltered, never was allowed to really date, and I definitely did not see a healthy relationship with my mom and my dad.” So, with nothing to go by, she failed to see the signs once she did find a partner during her late teenage years, just to tie the knot with him at 18 without understanding precisely how abusive he’d turn out. She did welcome a daughter with him, Angela (aka Angie), a couple of years later, but left soon upon realizing she’d jumped out of a frying pan into the fire.
The truth is Debi had no finances and no assets, meaning she had to move back in with her parents until she got back on her feet, which unfortunately started the cycle of abuse all over again. But alas, this time, the victim was Angie – her mother believed her grandmother would look after the toddler every step of the way, yet Bill managed to get his hands on her for years to come. Even visits after they’d moved out were a nightmare for the little girl, with the worst part being that Salesta was allegedly well aware of everything going on; she just didn’t speak up against her husband out of fear.
Where is Debi Mustard Now?
With everything Debi has endured, she’s evidently traumatized, and it did sadly lead her to follow in her parents’ footsteps in terms of how they dealt with issues — by avoiding/never speaking of them. Therefore, of course, when her daughters tried to voice their feelings on how her actions inadvertently resulted in Angie’s abuse, she decided to walk away and create some space between them. But alas, upon recognizing the similarities between her own behavior and how Salesta used to shut her down whenever she brought up the past, she reportedly gradually began acknowledging her role in it all.
Debi’s top priority was always her children’s safety, but she trusted in the wrong person while trying to put food on the table — the results of her actions obviously weren’t purposeful, yet it’s also clear to see where Angie came from while stating she should have known better. Nevertheless, in the end, we’re happy to report that despite the past, Debi, Angie, and Amanda still have a positive relationship that is slowly yet surely healing in a way like never before thanks to open communication. As for Debi’s current standing, from what we can tell, she is now doing her best to move on from the past by finally leaving her home state of Pennsylvania behind for the first time — she recently bought an RV and is now traversing the nation trying to find some peace.
Read More: How Did William “Bill” Flickinger Die?