Like Father, Like Son

I recently met a woman at one of our local convenience stores with whom I struck up a brief conversation.
When I told her who I was, or more to the point, who my father was, her countenance lit up with a big smile. She immediately shared with me an experience in her life that involved my father.
She had run out of gas and had no money to purchase some to put in her car. Out of desperation, she came to my father’s house and told him about her dilemma.
Being a man of compassion who had a reputation for helping people who came to him for help, he came to her rescue and gave her some gas money.
In telling me this story, she made it her business to also tell me that my late father was a man who would help anyone. It was not something that I had not been told before by quite a few people who had been the recipients of his benevolence. However, hearing her story not only reminded me of how compassionate and liberal my father was, but it also became the inspiration for what you are reading in my column today.
I have always been told and have been reminded by people in my family, like my wife and mother, that I am more like my father than any of my other brothers. My father even told someone, who he was very close to socially, that I was more like him than any of his other boys.
To be honest with you, back then when people would tell me of how much like my father I was, it did not set to well with me.
Perhaps it was because at that time, I did not want to be like him or compared to him.
Due to the fact that I disliked some of his failings and unprincipled ways, many of which had not been done discreetly in the shadow of secrecy, but openly to the eyes of the public and shame of my mother and entire family. Considering the unsavory aspect of my father’s history and behavior in this column today, it is not an act of dishonor and disrespect towards him – quite the contrary.
However, since it is impossible to remain true to the facts of history without alluding to some of the negatives of my father’s character, it was necessary to briefly go there.
Blinded by my father’s failings and human weaknesses, I could not see why people kept telling me that I was so much like him.
Sure, I looked more like him than any of my mother’s other sons. I could not deny that because every time I looked in the mirror, I saw my father’s image staring back at me. I could not deny his light brown eyes, his smile, and other distinct features that stood out in me as to say and remind me that I was Jim Goings’ son – a spitting image – and there was no denying it. Through genetic imprinting, I had been made to look like my father and unlike another fellow named Michael, the famous “moonwalker,” there was nothing I desired to change about that.
What I had despised about my father was not how he looked on the outside, but the unsavory things he did that came from somewhere within.
Miraculously, about a year before he passed in 2000, something amazing happened that completely changed my father’s inward and wretched core, as well as my judgmental and unfair opinion of him.
Jim Goings, my father, accepted Jesus Christ into his life and was miraculously and instantly born again. This experience and event was the most important thing that had ever happened in his life, as well as one of the most important things that blessed my life.
After his conversion, I baptized my father and he joined our church, where he was an asset until the day of his death.
Consequently, his acceptance of Jesus Christ also removed my blindness in regard to his good qualities that I had overlooked. They had been there all along, yet my anger and resentment had caused me to be oblivious to them. There was much good in my father and many things that were worthy of imitating, even before he was saved.
My father was a man who would give any man a job if he was willing to work. To his credit, he perhaps taught and developed more bricklayers under his tutelage, than any other master bricklayer in our locale. He easily provided jobs for many men with families, who otherwise would have been unemployed, more than any other African-American entrepreneur in the history of Dillon County.
One of the things that my father excelled in that I greatly admired was chivalry. He was a true defender of the weak, especially of women who were being physically abused or assaulted in his presence. A few of his heroic deeds were told to me by people who were present when he intervened on the behalf of the weak and women who were being bullied or assaulted.
Now that I can appreciate and even celebrate the positive aspects of my father’s ways and memory, I know why from my earliest days as a child in school, I was always a bully beater, defender of the weak, and outspoken for the right cause. I now better understand why I have almost always been free-hearted and at times willing to give people my last.
Perhaps a saying that my father was well-known for saying is true after all. Invariably, when talking about people, families, parents, and their children, he would say, “the chip don’t fly but so far away from the tree.”
So now that I have a better understanding of my father’s character and ways, I smile in agreement when I am told by those who knew him that I remind them of him.
Even as I have overcome the shame of being associated or identified with his human weaknesses and failings before his change,
I must honestly admit that I am a lot like my father – not only in appearance, but also in character and temperament. It is truly a case of “like father, like son” and I would not have it any other way.
The Almighty certainly knew what He was doing when He made Jim Goings my father.