An Artist Wishes His Wife Farewell in Watercolor

Reading between the lines.
March 1 2013 7:40 AM

Farewell to Patti

A touching and beautiful goodbye, in watercolor, from a husband to his wife.

A spread from Danny Gregory's "A Kiss Before You Go"
A spread from Danny Gregory's A Kiss Before You Go

Courtesy of Chronicle Books

On March 18, 2010, Patti Gregory—in a wheelchair for years following a subway accident—fell from the eighth-floor balcony of her Greenwich Village apartment. In the year that followed, her husband, artist Danny Gregory, kept a vivid daily journal illustrating his life and that of his son, from Patti’s farewell party to the frustrating way her memory recedes for both of them. “When I think about Mom,” his son notes months later in the resulting book, A Kiss Before You Go, “sometimes it’s like a character on a show we don’t watch anymore.”

Gregory’s thoughtful writing is accompanied by his stunning watercolor paintings, which are so rich and wild they viscerally convey the wide swings of emotion he and his family endured. But the book is not depressing—or at least no more depressing than life is. It’s both a celebration of the woman Gregory loved and a clear-eyed look at the work it took to clean up the messes she left behind. And it’s tremendously moving, perhaps no more so than on this page, on which Gregory points out that he from time to time opens Google Street View to see his wife, captured by the all-seeing eye, walking their dog down LaGuardia Place.

We’re very proud to have Danny Gregory illustrating the March issue of the Slate Book Review.

---

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.