Volunteer Dads

You might know a widow with young kids, maybe you know several. Here’s a sneak peek into our world and why I feel compelled to talk about dad volunteers.

My husband has been gone almost eight years. I often think about what he’d be doing now if he were still here, especially things that my son and he would have done together.  As I sat on the sidelines of our son’s basketball practice a few weeks ago, my eyes welled up with tears. His dad will never be the dad volunteer coach. He won’t even watch him practice. His dad won’t be the one patting him on the back, or teaching him a new play. My son won’t look to his dad and see him clapping after that shot he just made.

But what my son does see is other dads. He sees other dads who pat him on the back, who teach him a new play. He sees other dads that clap for him when he makes a basket. It’s not his first choice, but the point is, they are there.

These dad volunteers have other jobs and are probably tired. These other dads might have other kids, and other chores to take care of at home.  But they do it. They show up, they cheer on and coach and teach not only their son, but the boy whose dad isn’t there. The boy whose dad is out of town for work, who has other commitments, or who’s sick at home. For the boy whose dad doesn’t give a darn. Or for the boy whose dad who is in Heaven.


Today at my son’s second basketball game, I found my eyes welling up with tears again. I almost lost it. I was hoping the people next to me just thought I had something in my eye. Both eyes….continually for 2 minutes.  

It happened when my son got a rebound, threw it back up and made it in – swoosh! His first-ever score at a critical moment in the game. To say he was pleased is an understatement. I wish I would have had the camera on so I could relive that moment…but I hope to remember it in my mind forever.

It wasn’t just my son I was watching, however. I saw how happy he was but then I heard the roar of cheering from the three coaches on the sidelines of my son’s team. My eyes welled up with grateful tears for those guys that were proud of my son.  They cannot possibly understand what an impact they are having on my son, who doesn’t have his dad. Once or twice a week when they give him a high five, or tell him he’s doing a good job…it means the world to him (and me).

I realize I am a lucky lady, surrounded by some strong male father figures that are the next best thing to having his dad here. (My brother, dad, father-in-law, neighbors, cousins, cub scout leader, teacher)… Take my cousin, who has already attended a zillion cub scout events and meetings with his own boys, selflessly commits to take my son to cub scouts each week. He cares that much about my son; my husband would be amazed and equally grateful.

Every once in awhile I take my son to cub scouts and last week I got to witness the leader teaching my son to use tools. It was hard. That was my husband’s thing. He loved tools and was so talented at using them. I’ll be honest….I pounded my fist at least once against my leg in frustration that his dad wasn’t doing this. Not now, not next year, not ever. But thank God for these incredible mentors that are teaching my boy these skills. Thank God that these dad volunteers give their time, talent and encouragement to all the kids, not just their own.

Grieving people: This will happen. These waves of grief, even when you are sure you are doing really fine. Not just months after the death, but for years…….you will never be “ok” with the death and there will be times when the grief resurfaces and you so wish they were here. Hopefully, though, after the fist punch to the leg, the sobs in the shower, or shaking of the head….you can find gratitude for what and who God has left to care for you and youd kids.

Today I am grateful for the dad volunteers that have stepped up and continue to step up. Please tell a volunteer dad that they are having an impact way beyond their intentions. My son may not truly understand the impact of these strong role models until he’s a bit older, but I feel like the hole in his heart is being filled in an incredible way by these volunteer dads.


3 thoughts on “Volunteer Dads

  1. Oh Bethany…thank you for this beautiful essay. All men need to read this and act on it by volunteering and taking an interest in “fatherless” boys. They so need male role models.


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