A Tribute to Dad

The Right Priorities Being a father is an enormous responsibility. And when you marry someone, you don't really know what kind of a father he will be. Bronco has become a wonderful father. I don't think either one of us knew what we were doing when we had our first son. But now I can honestly say that he has surpassed my expectations.

Lots of men come home from work but don't really spend quality time with their children. Just being home doesn't make you a good father. Bronco is really available when he is home. Our life might be a bit different from the average family, but we strive to have quality time, because we don't often have quantity. When Bronco is home he is truly there, and our boys know it. Every night, they run to the door to see him.

When Bronco comes home, we all sit in our family room and read, visit, or just reconnect. He will often help the boys with school projects, reading, or just relaxing. I love this because I'm dead tired by the time he gets home and ready for someone else to take over.

He knows the needs of each of our boys and strives to find individual time with them. Our three boys are very different, and Bronco takes the time to appreciate those differences and make each child feel special. Whether it is throwing a ball five thousand times, going to a bookstore, or taking one fly fishing, he takes time to develop his relationship with each child.

One thing I love about Bronco is that he is teaching our boys to respect women. In the way he talks to me and treats me, he is being a wonderful example to them. He constantly tells them all that I do for them and reminds them to thank me. Through his actions, they are learning what is important and equal in a relationship.

We try as a family to be creative in spending time together. Since he travels, we have to be creative in order to stay connected. Bronco loves to iChat with the boys when he is on the road. The boys can show him their work and ask him questions about things. We can also have family prayer, which helps us all feel connected. He loves to be tuned in to what is going on in their world. He loves to hear how their day went and ask all sorts of questions about what they learned or how they handled a certain situation.

Bronco truly enjoys being with our boys. He'll ask me to bring them to practice, we'll take them with us to away games, and we always travel with them.

Bronco is definitely the patriarch of our family, and our boys know it. They treat him with total respect, love, and admiration. They adore him. He is an amazing example for them in all aspects of his life. Parenthood is a partnership, and I’m very lucky to be with someone who realizes this and has his priorities in the right order.

-Holly Mendenhall (Wife of Bronco Mendenhall, head football coach at Brigham Young University)

Secure in His Love My dad is the most Christlike person I know. He has always put the needs, wants, and welfare of my mother and me, his only daughter, ahead of his own.

Growing up during the Great Depression taught my dad frugality in the strictest sense of the word. He learned early to work hard and to help support the family. He often worked at jobs he didn't care for out of responsibility to his family. He put himself through college. He is an example to me of education and has helped me have a lifelong love of learning. I have also learned that having many material things is not the most important aspect of this life.

When I was twelve, my mom, who was raised in the Church but was not active at the time, asked me if I would like to take the missionary discussions. My parents both supported me the whole way as I made the decision to be baptized. My dad has not yet joined the Church, but he is an example of Christ and His teachings like no other I have seen.

My dad is quiet, reserved, and soft-spoken. He does not nag or give unsolicited advice. He is kind and gentle.

I have always felt secure in my father's love. I have never felt that I have disappointed him. He is my example of unconditional love. I feel this has helped me feel love and trust in our Heavenly Father.

-Vicki Kendall Knopf Monterey, California

A Life of Sacrifice My dad, Daniel Zimpel, is a pretty amazing guy. He has dedicated his life to taking care of my sister, my mom, and me. We all have muscular dystrophy. Mom gets around okay on her own, but for my sister and especially me, it is a far different story.

Dad has always been devoted. As I grew and my condition worsened, and my sister's worsened, and my mom's condition worsened, he was put in higher demand. But he has always been there for me. Nowadays, things are pretty complicated.

Every day Dad gets me up for college, takes me to the bathroom, settles me in my electric wheelchair, and starts my breathing treatments; then he does the same thing for my sister. Dad has to start my tube feeds that run in a special pump. He brushes my teeth and does my trachea care. He is constantly on the move from one person to the other.

Dad also takes me to college. He takes all my notes for me since I can no longer write. But even when we return home, Dad's work is far from over. He needs to scan any assignments or textbook chapters onto the computer so I can do my homework.

At 5 p.m. he needs to make sure that my I.V. food is out of the refrigerator. Then he may get a chance to sit down for a few minutes. During this "break," Dad is giving medications, treatments, and suctioning as needed. Then it is time for the bedtime routine. I start my four evening treatments; my sister starts her treatments. Dad has to do final preparations for my I.V. food, then teeth and trachea care again.

After family scriptures and prayer, Dad spends the next couple hours putting my sister and me to bed. We both require extensive propping and positioning since we cannot move at all in bed. By the time this is all completed, it is between 11:30 P.M. and 1 A.M. Dad survives on four to six hours sleep - usually the former.

I know that none of these things were part of my dad's plans or expectations for his life. But the point is that he gave up his wants and devoted himself to me. Always pushing beyond his limits; always serving. He never has a day off, and there is no retirement in sight. My dad is Super Dad.

-Christamae Zimpel

Enduring Well I honor my dad for all of the public reasons people honor him: as a teacher, speaker, writer, and Church leader; for his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the Savior. But I honor him even more for private reasons.

My dad died a few weeks before Father's Day last year. During the year before he died, he suffered from bone cancer. About a week before he died, he was having a bad reaction to some medicine and was agitated and struggled through the night. At one point during that ordeal, a difficult night for me and perhaps one of the very worst - if not the very worst night - of his 82-year life, as he lay there in a body full of cancer, with his eyes closed, he said in what was to me a sacred prayer - and in typical Truman Madsen inflection and cadence:

Thank you- For every moment, Every minute. We love you. We do. You've done glorious things to me; You know you have. Thank you! Thank you!

Following my Dad's example, I'd like to give thanks for his life, and his faith facing death.

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has written:

For the world, enduring may be enough. But enduring well with grace under pressure is required of us. We all feel the world. There is no safe sanctuary into which an individual can retreat except the sanctuary of the committed life, consciously chosen, in which an individual reaches a supposed breaking point but does not break!

My dad reached that breaking point, and did not break - he endured well with grace under pressure, and with good humor to the very end.

A couple weeks before he died, alone in his hospital room with my mom, he suddenly broke the silence, "I just can't do it!" Mom thought this might be the dramatic moment and took his hand. He said, "I just can't get my left foot back in the bed!"

A week before he died, as we got him ready for bed, we turned him to adjust the covers. As I held him, I said, "I'm sorry, Dad. We're going as fast as we can." He said, "I know. So am I."

My dad taught me through his discipleship during the last year of his life that we can't go around. We have to go through - to the very end. And, on that last long night together a week before he died, as he endured a night-long ordeal, with his simple prayer of gratitude, he showed me that, with the Savior's help, we can get through what we have to get through - and we don't have to go alone.

For that and the light shafts of his testimony that shone all the way to the bottom of our hearts, for enduring so well with grace and good humor to the very end, for all these things and more, we in his family say: thanks, Dad.

-Barnard N. Madsen (Son of religion scholar Truman G. Madsen)

What a Father Should Be Spending my childhood without a father image, I wondered what a father should really be like.

My husband and I had been married for nearly ten years when we received the call that we were going to adopt a sweet little girl through LDS Family Services. This would be the first time I would witness the actions of a loving father toward his precious little girl.

We had just traveled for nearly ten hours, and when we entered the church building, the birthmother decided that she would be the one to place her child with us. She leaned over to me and put in my arms this precious little angel girl. Immediately my husband placed in her hands a dozen red roses, so that she would not feel that her hands were empty but filled with the love that we shared for her and the unselfish act of wanting the best for this child. I learned that day that the little girl I held had the best father any little girl could possibly wish for. I knew what it must have felt like when Heavenly Father held me in His hands as his daughter and made everything feel perfect for me.

I would say that my husband has spent the last thirteen years of his daughter's life happier than he has ever been. My husband is everything I knew that a father should be, and all that Heavenly Father intended him to become.

-Esmeralda Carter

Adapted from "A Tribute to Dad," LDS Living, May/June 2010. Read more great tributes to dads inside LDS Living.

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