Westport woman who died on frigid night recalled with love
Published 5:57 am, Monday, January 3, 2011
The lyrics of a song, "If I Die Young," asked the mourners at a memorial service Sunday to "send me away with the words of a love song."
It set a theme of love and admiration as hundreds of family and friends of Cynthia D'Aiuto said their goodbyes Sunday to the 48-year-old Westport woman who died accidentally Dec. 28 of hypothermia from exposure to the frigid temperatures. They packed the Green's Farms Congregational Church for a memorial service at which they recalled D'Aiuto's struggles with a medical condition, her determination to surmount the obstacles that her illness presented, her generosity, smile, laugh and warmth.
"My mom has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles in her short life. No matter how many barriers were placed in front of her she found a way to get around them," said Jennie D'Aiuto, one of Cynthia's two daughters. Reflecting on her mother's life during the service, she said that Cynthia D'Aiuto's face and eyes would light up any room she entered and that she always went out of her way to help others.
"She was the princess of the family," Jennie said. She told the congregation, "Mom's life was like a big puzzle ... Thank you for being a part of my mom's puzzle."
Kaye May, one of Cynthia D'Aiuto's teachers, said she called very little attention to herself, was looking forward to 2011, and had a great deal of "kindness and love" for her friends and family. She said Cindy had moments that were memorable and memories she would want to forget.
Hers was not an easy life. D'Aiuto's illness caused her to experience frequent seizures, the result of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, according to a Goodwill Industries' bulletin, which stated further that D'Aiuto underwent surgery in 1999 to control the disorder. The bulletin mentioned the "incredible strides," she made to rebuild her life after brain surgery, which earned D'Aiuto to title of "Achiever of the Year" by Goodwill Industries of Western Connecticut in 2003.
The medical examiner's office said D'Aiuto's underlying medical issues may have contributed to her death. She was found early the morning of Dec. 28 in a snow-covered Kings Highway North parking lot, a short distance from her apartment in the Canal Park housing complex.
In his eulogy, the Rev. Daniel England, said he did not know Cindy D'Aiuto personally but came to know her through her family, including her mother Suzy (Kline) Fiore, of Westport, who was the director of the church's pre-school for many years.
"One thing is true and does not vary: When a person is loved they know it. Cindy was loved, is loved and will continue to be loved by her family and her friends," England said.
After the service, hundreds of people waited in line to offer their condolences to D'Aiuto's family and passed the time in the lengthy line looking at numerous photographs of her, which England said were bound "to make you smile."
"Everybody liked her. She had a nice personality. She was smart and she was a good person," said Jack Miccio of Westport. "She was generous and would help anyone who asked," he said.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880. The Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, Westport, assisted the family with the arrangements. To leave an online condolence, visit www.hardingfuneral.com.