Jamie Tilton was feeling good.
She’d finally gotten housing after a domestic violence incident left her homeless. She was able to take better care of herself now that she was housed. Tilton was able to manage her juvenile rheumatory arthritis, a chronic condition that had plagued her since childhood, which left her in constant pain.
She was very active at Real Change, taking part in the Editorial Committee that gets vendor feedback on the content in the paper and she served several hours as a volunteer. Tilton also started participating in civic life by helping collect signatures for an initiative that would have put a fee on carbon emissions.
She was excited “to get her life back on track,” Tilton told Real Change intern Lindsay Heuston in a 2017 vendor profile.
The good times did not last.
Jamie Tilton was found dead in her apartment on July 5 by her son, Kyle. She was 52.
Tilton was a Seattle native, although she moved around the Pacific Northwest and Colorado over the course of her life. She started selling Real Change in February 2015 and embraced the community of staff and vendors, not to mention her regular customers who got to know her while she sold at the Greenwood Safeway.
According to her posts on social media, Tilton had plans to decamp to Anchorage, Alaska with her son and daughter. She dreamed of the tattoo parlor he would open, and maybe even getting a little ink herself.
Tilton was always making plans. Though her life had taken a number of bad turns, she put one foot in front of the other, working toward the life that she dreamed of for herself and her family. She talked with zest about getting into her apartment, the furniture she managed to acquire and the cat she wanted to adopt.
Every time something went right, every time she overcame an obstacle or succeeded in a goal, Tilton described it as a miracle, holding onto that positivity with the relentless tenacity of someone who didn’t often get the chance.
But ill health plagued her, setting her progress toward stability back. In 2018 she landed in the hospital with what she described as severe kidney issues and reported that diabetes had damaged her liver. She didn’t come to the office for months, laid low by her conditions. In June, feeling better about her kidneys after a course of medication, she fought her way back.
Tilton’s strength, perseverance and dedication were a huge part of who she was. The Real Change community will miss her.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read the full July 24 - 30 issue.
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