My Skeletons are out of My Closet and Up on the Walls

rudolphI think it was Oprah who said, “A family is as sick as its secrets.” Well I have a couple of secrets I’ve never written about and I’ve decided to tell the world.

First, when you walk into our living room, you’d think we are big game hunters, which we’re not (we don’t even own a working gun). The first thing you see on the wall is a rack of elk antlers my husband Terry’s cousin, Dick gave us. He’s an avid outdoorsman and gave us one from his collection of elk racks from elk he’d shot over the years.

Commanding our huge rock fireplace is a giant moose rack holding a powder rifle from the Revolutionary War. Since I wanted my living room to feel like a lodge in the mountains, we picked a plan with 22 foot high, white pine ceilings with huge exposed beams and mammoth floor to ceiling windows overlooking a stunning view of Mt. Hood, the Lewis and Columbia rivers and seven counties (unless it’s foggy). Our builder gave us the moose rack as a gift when he understood the look I was going for.

My second secret is in our basement. Since we can’t afford a second home, we turned our basement into a cabin. I wanted the same outdoorsy feel in “the cabin.” There’s even a sign you see as you come down the stairs that says, “Life is better at the cabin.” We have a real wood-burning fireplace (the one upstairs is gas and just feels fake even though it’s real fire) and in the winter, we watch movies and Terry builds a wonderful fire almost every night.

The center of attraction however, is a deer head that’s been in my family for more than a hundred years. It’s a four-point buck for those of you who know your wild game. The secret lies within that buck and looking at him hanging on the wall you’d never know where he came from.

My grandfather “got” the buck, but not in the way you might think. Like us, he wasn’t a hunter either and as far as I know, he never owned a gun, but he was an alcoholic. (He quit drinking when I was four because of an ultimatum from my mother. She said if he ever drank again, he’d never see me again. He adored me and I was always grateful he was able to quit. No AA, no outside help, just love for me.)

Back to the deer head: in Grandpa’s drinking days, he had a good friend who was the janitor at the Elk’s Club in Manhattan Beach, California. One night he was at the Elks and when it closed, he and his friend stayed there and drank some more. Grandpa ended up staggering out the back door and with the blessing of his drunken friend, carried the deer head under his arm.

It was always in my home growing up. We called him Blitzen (perhaps Blitzed would have been a more appropriate name). When I found out the truth behind Blitzed, the statute of limitations was up on my grandpa’s transgression and since he never drank again, I grew to fully enjoy the story.

So my skeletons are out of the closet and hanging on my walls for all, including me, to enjoy!


For more of Pam’s essays and videos please visit her website here!

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