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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Walking Around My Longer Leg

As a toddler I remember quite clearly complaining to my parents that it was hard to walk around my longer right leg, my bobbing stride was awkward, disorienting, and it hurt my hips. In fact I remember in this photograph that my parents had just argued with me to walk out to the end of the boat dock and stand with them so that my paternal grandmother could photograph us.

My legs are either uneven with my left leg almost an inch shorter than my right leg, or my hips are misaligned resulting in my uneven stance. I particularly wanted my parents' help because of the pain that I felt when I walked, but my parents and Aunt Betty, the latter of whom was a registered nurse with medical authority in the argument, badgered me into silence on the matter. They warned me that I did not want to have to wear special shoes, one built up high to make my legs the same length, because then I would stand out among my schoolmates with an odd looking foot. (Apparently inside shoe lifts had not yet been developed.) They told me firmly that I would have to cope with it and so I did. I learned to walk through life with one leg on slight tiptoe, which is fairly exhausting. But I learned to compensate well enough to climb a couple of mountains, run a couple of races, and I have walked far and back in life. Perhaps my parents made the right choice. At any rate I am pain-hardened from exercising my mismatched legs, which is a useful ability in this hard world.

Notice in the photograph that even though I was a little bit handicapped by my misaligned legs, my feet are still well-aligned with my parents, one foot parallel to Father's foot and the other foot parallel to Mother's foot.

Even as a toddler I loved being at the northern Minnesota lakes, the changing skies over the lake, the invigorating breezes, the fish and algal smell of the lake so strong you could taste it, the motions of the waves as I walked along the lake, swam in it, or rode over it in a boat. I was enchanted by the north lakes creatures in and around the lake. Seeing this picture after almost seventy years brings back fresh, welcome memories to me. With Father's hand holding mine I felt safe on that tippy, old boat dock. Mother was always nearby, too harsh but ever watchful to make sure things were on schedule and hazard-free.

Still, I do have a hazy, earlier memory of Mother kicking me without warning when I was just learning to walk, habitually kicking me from behind as if my white diapered bottom was a soccer ball and sending me flying in the air. Being kicked hurt, hitting the hard floor was startling. Until I reached school age when others might notice, when Mother did not like something she would gesture kicking me in that way, and I understood exactly what she meant so I believe that this is a sad, true memory. Did she hurt my hips in this way?

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* "Many people have marginally different leg lengths that cause no problems at all but when the difference is large enough, treatment for the discrepancy is required. Having one leg shorter than the other ("short leg syndrome") can lead to a number of problems including pain in the back, hip, knee, and foot." I have always had significant amounts of all of these pains, they are unbearable in my old age.


Caption: Toddler Annmarie Throckmorton

with my parents at Forest Lake, Minnesota 1952

Caption: Lake Bemidji-1950s style cabins like we stayed in.

free domain image

Caption: Lake Bemidji the way it used to be in the 50s when we played there.

free domain image

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