Would it greatly amaze you - let's suppose those at home
intend to move between March and May next - would it greatly
amaze you if something happened to Mother before that time? Now
and then this thought occurs to me when I go there. I have the
impression that lately there has been a change.
“Aging” is such a strange thing, and it is
absolutely certain that there are many cases of a wife's not
outliving her husband by long. The change I observed is that at
times Mother's thoughts are more lucid, whereas during these
last months there were long periods when they seemed more or
less fuzzy - which is really not to be wondered at. For a time
thee was something overwrought in her, due to - at least so I
imagine - the void around her and the feeling of
Now it struck me that she has turned quite calm and
collected - something resolute has taken the place of the
worrying. Nothing more is to be seen.
I do not think it impossible that to her too death
may come unexpectedly and softly, just as it came to Father,
and for a similar reason. Seeing that I was struck by it - and
because Wil, when I discussed it with her, told me that she had
also observed that Mother was changing a great deal, and that
it made her uneasy too - I am writing to let you know.
For the rest, however, one might say that Mother is looking
particularly well. But there is something that makes me
think of what I told you. I don't think it would be a bad idea
at all if Mother made a few trips shortly, to Anna, to
Amsterdam, to Cor - especially as she seems to be resolved on
it and to long to see them all once more. But it might well be
that she herself has a presentiment that at the same time it
will be a leave-taking.
This month I had to pay my rent, and at the same time I gave
notice that I shall leave my studio toward May. Its drawback
is, as you know, that I am greatly handicapped by the
neighbours, and I notice that people are still afraid of the
priest, though perhaps he wouldn't meddle any further. But
since there has been trouble once, the best thing is a radical
The last thing I painted is rather big; it's an old mill on
the barren heath, a dark silhouette against an evening sky.
Now this is an uneasiness that I arrived at on my own,
however, to such a degree that I feel obliged to inform you of
it. But as Mother goes to see Van der Loo from time to time, we
may expect him to warn us if there is anything to be warned of.
But if it should be a passing similar to Father's, that is to
say, sudden, it is equally possible that it will happen within
a few days as within a few years. So - who can tell? If the
lucidity and the calm persist, I personally expect a crisis
after the trip, that is, within a short time - and dying
without a struggle. But sometimes it happens that the mind gets
a little clouded, then things drag on, and then it may still be
necessary to struggle through much suffering and worry. Please
think over whether I am not right in setting the two chances
against each other: either an early death without suffering or
the other thing.
Goodbye, with a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 12-15 November 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 432.
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