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The Pursuit of Happyness—A Father’s Legacy

There are many reasons to honor mothers but there are also many reasons to honor fathers. Since Father’s Day has just passed, we will take a look at one notable father in particular, Chris Gardner the subject of the book, “The Pursuit of Happyness”.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” which inspired the Will Smith film of the same name delves into the life of a man who overcame being fatherless, an abusive household, failed relationships and homelessness to become a successful broker with a multimillion dollar company.

The book delves into some darker areas in his Chris Gardner’s life that the film did not touch on. Gardner’s mother, Betty Jean was an aspiring teacher who, after the death of her mother, had to deal with an uncaring stepmother and father who no longer wanted to support her. Betty Jean, perhaps searching for the comfort her father no longer gave her, found herself involved in a number of bad relationships. She got pregnant by one married man and gave birth to a daughter and she got pregnant by another married man, the result of which was Chris.

Gardner’s father was never in his life and the man he thought may be a father to him, his stepfather Freddie, was an abusive alcoholic who made a point of telling Chris he was not his father as often as he could. With Chris’ sister knowing her father and with the attempted murder of his mother, Chris formulated in his mind that he would survive no matter what and that he would always be there for his children.

Gardner and his siblings would periodically live with relatives and in foster homes when his mother goes to prison as a result of Freddie’s actions. As time passes, Gardner marries an older woman but the couple grows apart. Gardener realizes his is bored sexually with his wife and the stable life he was looking for bores him even more. Gardner eventually gets involved in a passionate affair which ends his marriage and produces Chris Jr. This relationship ends as well when the mother of Chris Jr. doubts Gardner can be a good father since he never had one. However Chris Jr. ends up in his custody so she can pursue her own career goals.

Gardner has various work experiences. He pursued a medical career at one point and also enlists in the Navy for a period of time until he begins work as a stock broker. It is when he is settling in as a stock broker that he gets custody of Chris Jr. He ends up without a place to stay because the rooming house he is living in at the time does not allow children. Determined to make a life for himself and to be a good father, he keeps custody of his boy and continues to pursue his dreams of the happy life his mother was never able to achieve.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” is an excellent memoir that will have you rooting for Chris all the way and may even encourage you to go for the dreams you have for your own life.

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