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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 4/15/14. Staff Mugs

Sunday is Father's Day.

This one almost assuredly will be the last one I spend with my dad.

Pop, as I told you a few weeks ago, has brain cancer, and we are all aware that cancer ultimately remains undefeated.

Pop knows this.

He told me this week he closes his eyes and wonders if he just spent his last day here before going to Heaven. "I'm scared," he says, echoing the feeling everyone who knows him has.

I suggested turning the tables on his emotions. Rather than being scared of the darkness, remember the greatness of the light of each day.

"If you are worried about each day being your last, then make sure every day is well-spent," I told my Dad.

We should all take that advice, you know. It made me wonder about a day well spent, so I went to the man who has taught me so much in my 47 years. How to throw a curveball. How to change the oil in an automobile. How carrying a pocket knife is a cool thing. How to save money on things but to never skimp on a hammer.

"Pop, what makes a day 'well-spent' in your mind?" I asked.

He paused and rubbed his beard. He stared into the distance, because truth be told, Pop has always been deliberate. In words. In actions. In punishment and in praise.

"A good day is a good night's sleep, a warm chair and a good breakfast," he said after finishing his cheese grits and biscuits Friday. "After that, the rest of the day takes care of itself."

Wow. Maybe there's a clarity that comes in staring into the black hole that is the end. His words were pure and offered a baseline of things that too many crave and far too many take for granted.

My father is dying, and with each passing day I realize the blessing he left me was not the material things or the gifts. His greatest present was his presence.

So for those of you like me who had great fathers, be sure to call them and thank them this week. Forget the tie or the fern bar gift card. Pay back the time he spent with you.

For those of you who did not have good fathers — something that is the least-talked-about plague on our society — you are in my prayers.

For those of us who are fathers, well, take stock in your relationship with your kids. Are you proud of it? If you are not, how can you change it?

Because I know this, when Pop's number is called, he will be missed by so many. And he will be missed by his only son because he was a great father, so even his last day will be a good day.

That, my friends, was the latest lesson I received from my dad 48 hours before Father's Day.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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