The Hill and Me

Dear Editor

For over forty-five years I’ve been climbing Mission Hill streets, making the daily ascent up Calumet to my home on Sachem.  I even jogged up the Hill and around the neighborhood for the Mission Hill Road Race during my 30s, and again in my 50s.  The trek became a major challenge to me only once in my life—when I was pregnant at age 40.  During that period, I remember empathizing with neighbors who trudged up the incline with their bundles, pausing at the corner to catch their breath and rest their limbs on the bench by the H.E.R.E. House, the elderly housing I helped to develop some 40 years ago.  

The Hill’s descent brings delight to young skateboarders in fair weather and tobogganers in winter, but terror to the likes of me when icy conditions prevail.  The fear of slip-sliding down the Hill can keep me from venturing out at all.  Yet, mostly, I’ve taken the ups and downs of the Hill in stride.

About ten years ago, when my age-peers reached their 60s, I noticed many had difficulty negotiating the jaunt from the Brigham Circle train stop up the Hill to our home.  Providing shuttle service to my visiting friends and relatives became routine.  Now in my 70s, I sometimes ponder if the Hill is steeper than it used to be.  I’m the one looking for a place to rest as I round the bend by the H.E.R.E. House.  Whatever happened to the bench that used to welcome weary travelers?!

Recently, during my recovery from a freak accident resulting in a fractured pelvis, my caregivers were amazed at how rapidly I regained strength and mobility.  The daily physical therapy exercises may have accounted for some of the progress.  But I attribute most of the successful healing to those countless walks up and down Mission Hill, day after day, for nearly half a century.  When I can no longer climb winding Calumet to my Sachem Street home, I’ll know the time has come to move on—to flatlander lodgings, or… to “the other side.”

Nancy Ahmadifar

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