Dad. There it was splayed across the paint can. A bright, multicolored label. Who was the Dad this belonged to?

Aunt Bea’s husband, William, died two years ago, did she still have an old paint can of his that she couldn’t throw away? A Father’s Day gift, perhaps? Of all things to keep why not a watch, a handkerchief, a favorite chair, but a paint can? What the hell was that?

It didn’t feel like there was liquid inside. It was heavy. I mean really heavy, dense almost. Should I open it? Ughhhh, the lid didn’t want to move. I grabbed a discarded kitchen knife lying on the rug.

Slowly, the lid started to come up, then with a quick pop it fell to the floor. I peered inside wondering if I might come across some disgusting remnant that defied all known rules of science.

Nope. Of course not. Dad. How could I be so stupid?

In my family, a paint can like this had only one use. Dad. I was staring at the cremated remains of my grandfather.

He was the family specter to me and my cousins. He died when I was very young, but I was one of the few from my generation who could remember him.

I don’t remember much except that he was old. Funny, but that’s all I can conjure up. He was an old man who visited my parents once close to the end of his life. Not long after, he was hospitalized for setting himself on fire in a drunken rage.

It sounds crazy. Well, that’s because it was crazy, but that’s what he did. That’s who he was. It wasn’t long after the fire incident that he fell down some stairs and died. My mother always wondered if he’d killed himself, and most of the family accepted that he had.

Now all that was left of him was sitting in a cheap paint can found at some garage sale.

© Ian Paul 2017