Today is Father's Day. Due to my gray hair and advanced state of baldness, you may be surprised to learn my father, also named Don, is both alive and well.
Dad is 85 years old. He has a wry smile and perfectly pressed clothing. He is trim, and has been sporting a Wilford Brimley-style mustache since before Wilford Brimley began acting in movies.
He has a limp -- the product of two back surgeries and a knee that should have been replaced 15 years ago.
This column will embarrass him.
He is a man for whom the words "meek" and "kind" might have been invented. But don't confuse kindness and meekness with weakness; Dad is the opposite of weak.
His story-worthy life includes surviving -- uninjured -- an actual Montana bison stampede. He hid behind/under a large log as the herd ran around and over said log.
Dad's a retired police officer. During nearly 50 years wearing a badge, he's had countless close calls and amazing experiences. Here are two:
* His first week on the job as a Wyoming highway patrolman in the 1950s, he was kidnapped and held at gunpoint by a fugitive who had killed a Denver police officer the day before. Dad persuaded the man to let him go free. Later that night, my father helped capture the killer.
* As a Big Horn County, Wyo., deputy sheriff, he was shot at point blank through an automobile's windshield. The bullet deflected into the doorjamb. Dad dug it out for use as evidence at the shooter's trial. After the conviction, he had a jeweler make it into a tie tack.
(Not to be outdone, my mother -- working as an overnight police dispatcher, also in Big Horn County -- foiled a jail break by drawing down on a prisoner with a .357 magnum.)
Dad married my mother when they both were 30. They have been married 55 years.
Dad's parents divorced when he was 3. He lived with his mother and a stepfather on Salt Lake City's Indiana Avenue - the west side of town; even in the 1930s, the neighborhood was not known for its affluence.
Cancer took his mother when he was 14. In all those years, she never once uttered to him the words: "I love you."
Somewhere along the line he decided he would treat his kids differently. True enough, if a day has ever passed IN MY ENTIRE LIFE that Dad hasn't told me he loves me, it's only because we didn't talk on the phone during a particular 24-hour period.
Dad joined the Marine Corps hoping to fight in Korea. Instead, he spent four years as a supply sergeant in Oakland, Calif. He was -- still is -- disappointed he didn't get to fight. For me, I'm happy he was "in the rear with the gear." After the Marines, he served two-plus years on an mission to Norway for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My father is frugal and handy. I cannot count the number of times I've worked with him to replace automobile transmissions or brakes, a water heater in the house, tile in the entryway or any number of household repairs.
In about 96.9 percent of those projects, he has reached a point of frustration sufficient to prompt repeated utterances of the milder swear words he so rarely permits to pass his lips. Sometimes a tool will be tossed. Once, memorably, he danced atop a tin funnel until it was flat as the Kansas countryside. Imagine Darren McGavin working on the furnace in "A Christmas Story": That's my Dad.
I know no better man than my father. Indeed, I have yet to meet his equal. Happy Father's Day, Pop. I'll see you this afternoon.
Email Don Porter at email@example.com.