A couple months later as I was walking around the Lincoln Park Zoo on a sunny Friday after a day of classes, Bob called me to talk for a couple hours about the new bass clarinet he bought as I stared at the lions. He was going to be the regular substitute with the Cleveland Orchestra. I was SO THRILLED because I knew Bob was pretty much the best-clarinetist-ever... and for him to have settled down long enough to be recognized and play among some of the other "best-clarinetists-ever" was so exciting.
And a couple months after that... Bob called again to tell me he had cancer. I was 25, and the only person close to me that died young was my own grandfather. I didn't know what to say, or do... but we talked for a couple hours on the phone. He was so optimistic, like always. He was moving to a new house so he could have parties and people could stay with him. He reconciled with some long-lost people in his life. He was working on new projects and recorded with his friend, composer Johnterryl Plumeri.
Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp by Johnterryl Plumeri
The following is a link to a full length recording which is being featured on Boston Classical Music channel WGBH.
Johnterryl Plumeri's Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp with clarinetist Robert Fitzer
Bob went into this part of his life with energy and hope, and a strange happiness that was probably brought on by the people he loved coming together.
I took a few days off from school to visit Bob. We talked for a couple hours, he advised me on my career decisions and told me how great I sounded and how great I looked. This was the last time that I saw him, and the last time that we talked for a couple hours. I miss him every day, and I think of him every time I play the clarinet.