Wednesday, November 24, 2004


the penultimate moment (for nora)
this image is copyrighted. do not reproduce without permission.

the penultimate moment is a very daunting piece, both in terms of its creation and its final size. full size, it measures 30” X 54” (2.5’ X 4.5’). the poem and illustration are both dedicated to my grammy, nora. this is not the only version of this illustration; the original can be seen in this final piece. months later i returned back to the image and realized the scale was wrong, too small. however, the simple process of resizing and augmenting this image was not to be simple at all. my lap top died. then the loaner lap top died. on top of all of that, the image was just too big for my memory on the lap top, so a few times even my photoshop program crashed. all in all, this illustration took over a full working month to finalize. the celtic knot that can be seen throughout the image is not a celtic knot at all, but a fractal of my mom, nora and her husband, my grampy, walking into the church for my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. the photo one set in rows with itself and morphed becomes a very wild celtic know, often intimating a celtic cross. when i wrote the penultimate moment it was really after hearing my grammy’s voice, clearly, even though she had been dead for years. but things like that happen in our family, at least with nora, con, leller and ger. in the final image i have nested a photo of my mom and aunt, ages 5 and 3. suffice it to say the photo tells a lifetime in a snapshot. there is also a great photo of my grampy standing next to his truck when he worked for the city of chicago. he was a proud, tough, lucky and bedeviling man, as she was a soft, quixotic, mysterious and devoted woman. and as it turns out, my penultimate moment with my grammy was at her 50th wedding anniversary. it was a traditional irish wedding party. to the nines. nora and i danced. she said something to the effect of “i’ll lead but it will look like i am following. just follow what i do.” and with that, we danced. i can still remember her glasses, hands, voice (she did almost sing her greeting), her eccentricities. while i have a fairly good memory, when it comes to my grammy, i draw a very mediocre hand. she is my achille’s heel when it comes to my photographic memory. but, i try the best i can to at least approximate what i felt transpired. she always seemed more in-between what was said and what was expected, anyway. it is indeed that moment just before the last one that either haunts or calms. i miss her dearly.

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