THE IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRITY
Patrick Gavin went to see Theo a few days before he died. “I wanted to see him. I knew he didn’t have long. I could see he was in pain but he covered it up. We sat for a few hours on the verandah. It was very sad. I guess Theo could see how I felt and it ended up with him trying to cheer me up. That was Theo.”
After gaining his composure, Patrick continued: “He was working on a painting, chrysanthemums, vivid colors, and I could see the suffering in his eyes. It was all so strange. Here was the beautiful house he had built and he knew he wouldn’t have it for long. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. I looked at him and then at the Ping River beyond. The river would be there, like it always had been, but not Theo. I wanted to cry out, to say something, but no words could come.
Theo stopped painting and turned to me. ‘My eyes are going, I can’t screw anymore, I can’t drink anymore, and I have to watch what I eat. What’s the use?’
“He thought for a moment and then said, ‘But I can still paint.’ That he could-paint. That was the last painting he ever did. I left his house and this time I walked back into town. I wanted to think, and cry to myself. God, I loved that guy. And soon he would be gone.”
Theo firmly believed he could beat his cancer that started in his groin and spread to his lower spine. Yattlie didn’t tell him that the doctors explained that the disease had metastasized. But even she hoped for the best. In one final stand, and with trust in his European doctors, she and Theo flew to Basel. He checked into the hospital. A week later, with Yattlie holding his hand, Theo Meier died.
- Photo caption on page 286 of the book: Patrick Gavin’s photo of Theo, perhaps the last one of him ever taken.