On my father’s shoulders


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1954 on my dad's shoulders
1954 in Deauville

Whenever I see a child on his/her dad’s shoulders, I remember the feelings of power and elation that I felt whenever my father carried me so. My father was quite tall for a man of his generation, and when I straddled his shoulders, I felt like the master of the universe!
This photo was taken when I was ten, well past the age of straddling anyone’s shoulders and although I don’t remember the details of the episode, let it suffice to say that the year following this photo, in 1955, my father suffered from a massive backache problem and was bedridden for months on end. He had a lumbar disc hernia which caused excruciating sciatic pain, and for months, they couldn’t decide whether he should undergo surgery or not.
So six years after I had been forced to lie in my parents’ bed for something that felt like ever, it was his turn. I remember this well, how my mother bought our first TV, a black and white set, of course. In those days, there were only a couple of hours of programmes every evening, and they showed the same ballet over and over, for TV sellers to be able to show their customers something, during the day.
My father couldn’t move at all, he was imprisoned in some sort of plaster corset and my mother had resumed her nursing duties. She was never feeling better that when she could look after one of us.


10 thoughts on “On my father’s shoulders

  1. Oh Claude – when I first saw the picture of you on your father’s shoulders I thought what a strong man and then reading further I learned what he went through. How sad –

    And then what you went through – no wonder you don’t like to go to doctors. It’s bad enough when older people get sick but when it’s a child, it’s really not fair.

    I didn’t know any of this until I read your post.

    We all go through a lot in life – but we also make each day count – I think you and I do a good job of that!

  2. That’s too bad about this back. I hope he found relief from the pain. Mr. kenju once spent six weeks in bed due to a back problem, and it was hell for both of us.

  3. Oh Claude, how awful for you and your father. It must have been dreadful for a five yearold to be bedridden so long. Do you think they would have a different treatment nowadays?
    Reading about your father made me think of my grandad. He had to give up work because of a back injury and I remember him having to lie flat for weeks on end. Back pain so so debilitating.

  4. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, but this tells a struggle more than reaching for greater heights. There are now new technologies that can fix back ailments – at least somewhat – and this gives hope to many who are facing problems similar to what your father encountered. I have seen first-hand the struggles of those who are faced with back problems and back pain is one of the most excrutiating and difficult pains to endure.

  5. It is a wonderful photo of you and your father. One that I know you treasure so much. I too spent almost a year in bed when I was six years old. I had rheumatic fever and was not allowed to move. I remember my mom reading to me, and also a neighbor who was a teacher coming over in the late afternoon to teach me to read. I loved her visits, and I appreciated her volunteering to help. And oh yes, I remember those shots.

    I can only imagine how difficult it was for your father to be bedridden.

  6. That’s a great photo of you and your father. I’m sure you know how fortunate you are to have had memories of such happy experiences with him, especially to have even had a loving father in your life. Sorry he had such pain and can appreciate what he must have had to endure given my husband’s own final few years with unrelenting back pain.

    What a challenging time for you as a child to be so confined to bed and for such a long time. Am sure learning to read must have been a real treat and then to at least have some distraction with TV, however limited the programming. Did you have radio, or maybe there weren’t any children’s shows broadcast? Sounds like your mother had her hands full those years when one or the other of you or your father was confined. Hope she retained her health and maybe had some help for a respite.

  7. @ Millie, I’m with you, we do make each day count
    @ kenju, then you know what I’m talking about. My mother went about all this like a good soldier…
    @ H.A. Page, surgery HAS progressed, but is still pretty flaky on vertebral problems and in this country, they try to postpone it as much as they can. It seems that with ageing, things don’t get easier on the back.
    @ Maria, then you know first hand how it felt! I haven’t been to your blog in weeks. I’m heading there!
    @ Sara, not a colander, my father’s cap! 😉
    @ Joared No children shows broadcasts when I was a kid and I don’t even remember a radio set being in my parents’ bedroom where I was confined. It was reading, and reading again.

  8. I love the photo! I don’t remember every riding on my dad’s shoulders but I’m sure I must have. It’s a shame about your father’s back.

  9. I just love this photo of you and your father. It certainly is the epitome of that special bond between fathers and daughters.
    Wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day, Claude!
    Hope all is well with you.

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