April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

ONCE YOU BOTH MAKE IT OUT THE BACK END OF CHILDHOOD, A SISTER can become a friend for life. But the relationship between a mother and daughter often takes a more complicated, ever-changing path. “In essence, you start out with a mother as a caretaker, changing a daughter’s diapers,” says Philadelphia Magazine senior writer Carol Saline, 57, the coauthor with photographer Sharon J. Wohlmuth, 50, of Mothers & Daughters, a sequel to their 1995 bestseller Sisters. “And you often end up with a daughter taking care of her and in some cases changing her diapers.”

Of course the decades between those extremes offer countless opportunities for closeness and caring. Focusing on 37 sets of women, Wohlmuth and Saline captured some of the ways mothers and daughters relate. There’s Kate Shupe, a Virginia matriarch in her 90s, who still dishes out advice to her nine daughters; Regina Tepfer from New Jersey, who received a kidney from her recently deceased mother; and actress Janet Leigh and her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, who makes a point of calling her mother each year on the exact anniversary of her birth—that is, at 8:36 a.m. on Nov. 22—to say thank you. Yet as the women on these pages reveal, mothers and daughters everywhere tend to long for the same thing. “It boils down to love,” says Wohlmuth. “They want to hear, ‘You are a wonderful daughter; you are a wonderful mother. No matter what.’ ”

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