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‘A Kiss Before You Go’ a celebration with eyes wide open

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 the 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.

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