The small charter plane went missing on Wednesday afternoon, February 5, somewhere between Puerto Vallarta and Careyes, Mexico. When the smoldering wreckage was found Thursday, worst fears were confirmed. Frances “Frannie” Dittmer, sole passenger, and pilot Alberto Navarro did not survive. Some of you know Frannie as my-affectionately-referred-to “wife-in-law,” my husband’s first wife and mother of his children. We called each other F-1 and F-2. She was a welcome (and popular!) guest at our wedding. She was also, to state the obvious, my friend.
If you want to read about one amazing, smart, talented, funny, art-connoisseur-ing, football-passing gal–and I’m not just saying that–read her obituary here in today’s New York Times, which I was privileged to write.
As friends and family gathered and everyone asked what they could do, I asked Arcadia Studio’s Puck Erickson and designer Mindy Rice for a wreath. I cried when I saw how beautiful it was–although I shouldn’t have been surprised. In about an hour’s time, scavenging in her own winter-worn garden, the immensely talented Mindy wove a ring of magnolia, bay laurel, dusty miller, ferns, anemones, and sprays of white guara. And just happened to have on hand the perfect purple ribbon.
The wreath is symbolic of the circle of eternal life and has been used at funerals since the days of ancient Greece. Evergreens signify the everlasting. In a lovely and old-fashioned custom, a memorial wreath on the door signifies to passers-by that there has been a death in the family. As we are eight miles from town, our usual passers-by are coyotes, but we’ve had a good many humans the last few days.
As the wreath symbolizes eternity, so our family and friends are eternally grateful for all the folks who have called, written, come by, sent food and flowers. Showing up is everything in life. It means a heck of a lot in death, too. Thank you.