Thursday, June 28, 2012

So Past Perfect

"Past Perfect" Oil on collaged base by Valerie Hebert, 2012
Abigail was about the most interesting grandmother a girl could have. To you, and everyone else, she was Dr. Dickson, Ph.D. To me, she was a wealth of really interesting information, sporting a fashionable black beehive hairdo, wearing cat eye glasses, and usually dressed to the nines. 

She always spoke of somewhat morbidly fascinating topics of conversation due to her interesting line of work. She lived alone, never owned a TV set, instead preferring conversation with an old tabby cat named Peter Bierce, and for a time, an affectionate and over-exuberant brown labrador retriever named Ping. She was a forensic psychologist before there were such things as women forensic psychologists, and especially before grandmother versions! I have missed her dearly since her passing nearly 10 years ago. She was a rock in my life.

detail, Abigail's house
Abby, or GG, as we referred to her once her great-grandchildren were born, had a secret side. Sure, she was the respected and revered Doctor Dickson, but rarely did she invite others to her home or office. I can count on one hand the number of times I was invited over to her home as an adult. Too many secrets swimming around in there.... Indeed, upon arrival at her gracious and historic home, instructions were given to "Turn sideways and walk like a crab!" Grandma, aka Dr. Dickson, was a hoarder. Long before it was a spectacular obsession via the A&E TV network, we had a true life obsession at our fingertips. Let me tell you, it was interesting, but it wasn't pretty.

Once, shortly before her passing when GG was in hospital (she'd always had lung problems, and eventually succumbed to COPD) my mom got her house key and took me over to have a look at things. Boy, was that an adventure! We had shared many a tea party at GG's house when I was growing up, and after so many years, I could see the same bedrooms, unused and untouched, and sealed off my a mountain of "treasures." Eye candy vs. trash? I was torn. Looking back after cleaning it all up, it was such a mixed bag. But, I know one thing for sure; it was from Abigail I received my vintage appreciation, and affliction towards historic homes. Poring through a lifetime of possessions and collections allows one to get to know another like nothing else. Pity we can't do this during their life, before they've left us. So many more stories they'd be able to tell...

Teabag as part of the collaged base!
I painted this work as a gift to myself and my husband, who have spent the last 10 years lovingly restoring and caring for this glorious home... a final remembrance of Abigail, and the great lady she once was. We are finally moving on now. Our work here is done. Though we'd love to be able to keep this home, it is beyond our means, so we are selling, and move off in a new life's adventure. Hopefully one that is historic and vintage challenged. Then, I know our hearts will feel at home!

x, Val


Heather Woollove said...

Valerie--What a lovely tribute!! XXO-

Marfa said...

It's really beautiful, Val! ♥ I love your painting. I see a map in there...and a tea bag?

Valerie said...

Thank you, sweet ladies. Yes, Marfa, you have good eyes! I use lots of elements in the collage base that relate to the subject matter, and the tea bag was key in this painting. When I paint historic home paintings in Coronado, which is surrounded by water, both beach and bay, I usually include a water view. Our house just happens to overlook the bay, so there's no fudging that view in this painting. That's what it's really like!
x, Val