Mothers & daughters: Two who live next door to each other

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If Mary Beth Leech, 41, wants to visit her mother, Mary Lou McLaughlin, 62, all she has to do is step across the driveway of her Squirrel Hill house, because her mother lives next door.

Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
Mary Lou McLaughlin, left, and daughter Mary Beth Leech, both of Squirrel Hill.
Click photo for larger image.

It's an arrangement her four children love, too -- if they aren't happy with what's on the menu that night, they'll announce they're going to check out what's at "Gran's."

Mary Beth says she and her mom have always been soul mates, in matters big and small. If there's a crisis, "I'll turn on CNN and call her and say, 'Do you have it on?' And I don't even have to say what it is because she knows exactly what I'm talking about.'"

What is the secret to becoming your daughter's best friend? The secret is that there is no secret.

"Just be true to yourself," said Mary Lou, who also cited her belief that a strong faith helped her mothering skills.

Weren't there ever any rocky patches in this particular mother-daughter relationship? Any adolescent rebellion?

Mary Lou looks honestly stumped.

"The only time I worried was when Mary Beth drank too much Diet Coke in high school," she said, laughing.

In the end, this is not about emotional dependency -- it's about two adults with a shared history who respect and value each other.

"Jack Nicklaus had his son as his caddy," says Mary Lou. "It was not a dependent relationship. He treasured his son's opinion."

"I have a huge regard for Mary Beth," she adds. "I am thrilled with my daughter."


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