Tina died today. Or maybe yesterday, or the day before.
I don’t know Tina’s last name. I never really talked to her — once or twice, at the Y when it was downtown.
You may not think you knew Tina. But if you live in Westport, you did.
She was the homeless woman with the limp.
We saw her everywhere. Tina was at the library. Gold’s. Oscar’s, before it closed.
And of course, we saw her limping all around town.
A Weston native, Tina was an independent spirit. She didn’t care for rules. She lived life her own way.
Sometimes she panhandled — downtown, or in front of CVS. Some Westporters gave her money. Others didn’t. They thought she’d spend it on alcohol or drugs.
Tina didn’t drink or do drugs. Mostly, she spent what she had on food for her cat.
She ate meals, occasionally, at the Gillespie Center. Volunteers there got to know her, as best they could. Tina was not an easy person to know.
Many people — and organizations — did what they could to help. Homes With Hope tried. Human Services tried. The police tried. Sometimes they succeeded. Sometimes not. But they never stopped trying.
They always treated her with dignity and respect.
Tina got through winters her own way. She lived in a shed downtown.
That’s where she died. Someone who had not seen her in a while went looking for her. He found here there, in the shed.
She’d had a bad leg wound recently. She may not have taken care of it. That was the way she lived, and it may have been the way she died.
Tina’s mother died, not too long ago. Her brothers are also gone.
But Tina may have a funeral. Rev. Pete Powell — a founder of Interfaith Housing (now Homes With Hope) — often leads services for homeless people.
If there is one, I’m sure Westporters will attend. They’ll try to do what they can in death for Tina — the woman with the limp — just as they did in her life.