Salesta “Lois” Flickinger: Amanda Mustard’s Grandma Died of Colon Cancer

As an Amanda Mustard and Rachel Beth Anderson-directed documentary we can only describe as haunting, HBO’s ‘Great Photo, Lovely Life: Facing a Family’s Secrets’ is definitely a must-watch. That’s because it delves deep into the way the former’s maternal grandfather, chiropractor William “Bill” Flickinger, ruined the lives of many through his actions as a seriously abusive pedophile. Amongst those to thus have a rather prominent presence here is none other than his wife, Salesta “Lois” Flickinger — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about her, here’s what we know.

Who Was Salesta “Lois” Flickinger?

It was reportedly back around the late 1940s/early 1950s when Bill first came across Salesta in church during a Wednesday night bible study class, just for them to quickly fall head over heels. The truth is they were such a whirlwind they decided to get engaged within a mere three months, following which came their wedding as well as the beginning of their familial life with three kids. “Oh, she was so precious…,” he stated in the original production at one point. “She was great with the kids. She couldn’t do anything wrong. She was such a marvelous, wonderful woman.”

But alas, the truth of Bill and Salesta behind closed doors was much different, and it apparently started with him forcing everyone to call her Lois after marriage since he hated her given name. Then came the alleged molestation of young girls at his hands, including of his own daughter and granddaughter, which she was purportedly very well aware of yet never spoke about at home or otherwise. Yet no one truly blames her because they saw that she too was an inadvertent victim — while their daughter Debi feels as if Bill took her mom’s soul, their son Paul knows she used to self-harm.

In the film, Paul said, “There was this one time when I was real little; it was just a typical night, and the bathroom door was open. I kind of peeped my eye into that little crack, and I looked, and I saw her standing in front of the mirror with a razor blade. She was just kind of chopping at her hair and crying, and her hands were bleeding. I let the door go open a little bit, and I was like, ‘Mom, please don’t do that.’ She turned, and she was shocked I caught her. She bandaged up her fingers, she cleaned up, she hugged me. She felt like she’d failed us. I know that was something she carried.”

As for Debi, despite the fact she didn’t like the way her mother used to shut down the conversation whenever she brought up the past, she understood that the latter was really traumatized too. Therefore, she did her best to literally separate Salesta from Bill once she was on her own two feet, which she ultimately succeeded in doing in 2012 — she convinced her to just come with. Debi understood divorce wasn’t an option considering their religious background, so she persuaded her mother to simply return to their native Pennsylvania alone — they feared Bill would kill them, but this felt like a last chance, so they made a quick drive of it.

How Did Salesta “Lois” Flickinger Die?

Salesta had actually lost nearly 30-40lbs within months in 2012, which is what had prompted Debi to really push the escape, and it turned out the mother of three was battling colon cancer at the time. Thankfully, with proper care, right medication plus minimal stress, she was able to lead a stable, happy, comfortable life for two more years before things just got too much again and she succumbed. Salesta ostensibly passed from her illness around the mid-2010s, following which she was cremated and part of her ashes were given to her husband; this is when the family truly began asking him questions to learn the truth as well as heal.

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