I don’t like it when they call cremated ashes remains. It has so many weird and negative connotations in my mind.

It makes me think that somebody took something from him and then gave us what was left over, his remains. Which I guess since he did donate his body to science is literally what happened. so literally here remains make some sebse, but it produces some odd connotations.

I think I don’t like remains because It implies that his remains are exactly that. All that remains of him. In some ways his physical remains are the least significant of what remains of him.

The memories he has left behind are much stronger to me than his ashes, which can be evidenced by them still sitting in the box they came in 7 years ago. He also left a family. Not that he was the sole creator of that family but he sure played a part.

All of his quirky plumbing still remains, his self welded fire place doors, the lift that picked him out of his wheelchair and plopped him on his fancy toilet or in his bathtub. He left a greenhouse, his bikes (fully engraved with his SSN in his defiance of identity theft). His sayings remain. He claimed, on more than one occasion that he didn’t know how to curse. In his attempt to prove this inability he created his own curse words to fulfill the void. The most notably one was “grocery store!” He also said “avocado!” occasionally.

He left old wind up toy cars, old spinning tops, wildly colored counters and a fully tiled bathroom. He left a swath of asparagus that he and my mother planted that is harvestable to this day.

He also left relationships. Many of them. Relationships with his siblings, his mother, his in-laws, his nieces, his nephews and his wife, his son and his daughter. Although the physical things he left serve as frequent reminders of him the relationships give those reminders context.

Sometimes it is hard for me to remember what he was like before he became ill. I feel guilty because I don’t want his life to be defined by his illness since it was such a small portion of his life. Sometimes I can’t help it though, because I have my strongest memories of him while he was sick. But when I see things that he did around the house or remember being in the garden as a child I remember that he cannot and should not be defined by that disease.

Just as he should not be defined by the box of his remains.

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