Randy and I recently spent a few days in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. We were there to say goodbye to a dear friend, Bob Jutte-Krause, who after a long battle with multiple myeloma passed away peacefully Wednesday, February 20th.
It was with sad hearts that we spent that day driving from our home in Florida to Asheville to be with Bob’s family and friends supporting each other in our grief and celebrating this wonderful man’s life.
It was amazing to me how quiet we were as we made the ten hour drive only breaking the silence once in a while remembering times we had shared with Bob.
Randy met Bob at a New Beginnings singles retreat for newly divorced and widowed men and women who were looking for a way to deal with the lives they had lost, living again as a single and discovering ways to move forward. They were drawn together and forged a friendship based on their shared love of motorcycling. I met Bob through Randy. Over the years we shared many moments breaking bread together, going to many fun events and traveling many beautiful, winding roads across the country.
Thursday morning we met long-time friends Lana and Barry in the parking lot and after many hugs and sad tears went inside and joined Bob’s wife Char, family members and friends and found ourselves, and others sharing funny, interesting and poignant stories about our friend Bob.
After several hours Randy, me, Lana and Barry said our goodbyes with a promise to join the family at Char’s apartment and went downtown for a bite of lunch. Not knowing where to go we decided to just walk along Biltmore Avenue and see what was available. There were so many restaurants with such diverse menus, it was hard to choose. After reading a menu posted on the window of Hannah Flanagan’s Pub we decided to enter, and very glad we did.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Irish favorites and burgers and wonderful bottle and draft brews. The beer and ale list, both domestic and foreign, was mind boggling. I chose a particularly wonderful light ale called La Fin du Monde (The end of the world) from Canada. It is unusual for me to try ale as I find them to be too strong but once I got passed, what I thought to be a slightly bitter taste, I enjoyed this cloudy brew very much.
Once we all had our drinks we raised our glasses and Lana said, “To Bob” and I added “To friendship” and spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and talking about motorcycle trips we had all enjoyed. We returned to Char’s apartment enjoying conversations with the many family and friends that had arrived in town to be a part of the “gathering” that would take place the next day.
On the way back to our home away from home at the Biltmore Village Sleep Inn hotel we decided to stop at McDonald’s to get a sundae. This had to be the most beautiful and elegant McDonald’s I have ever seen. The outside reminded me of an old train station. Inside there was a warm and inviting two-sided fireplace, a player grand piano, chandeliers hanging from a tray ceiling and comfortable studded leather booths.
To say that we were blown away would be an understatement. We learned later that the village has an architectural board that works very hard at keeping the look and feeling of the village beautiful.
Friday we gathered to celebrate Bob’s life.