MY children got out a couple of DVDs to watch, Flushed Away and 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. We watched the latter film over the last couple of nights. It is based on the true story of Chris Gardener and his son. Dad is doing his utmost to keep his family together and take proper care of his son, but their dreadful financial situation leaves them on the streets. They have to sleep rough until they are rescued by Rev Cecil Williams (who plays himself in the film). He runs a Church and a shelter. According to Mr Gardener that church serves a million meals a year to those who have nowhere else to go.
Gardener gets himself an internship-unpaid- at a stock brokers and works his socks off, eventually gaining that happiness for himself and his son.
When the film came out the media here in the UK - like the BBC were quick to call it a 'rags to riches' film. It isn't. It is a film about one man's utter commitment to his son. He spends a lot of the time running-always trying to fit everything in around his son. His son's needs are paramount.
But one of the things that struck me more than once as we watched this film was just how alone Mr Gardener was. He appeared to have no friends and no family willing to step up to the plate when things became so so difficult for him and his 5yr old. Where were they?
His wife leaves.
He never knew his own father and the film gives the impression he has no mother to speak of either although the real Mr Gardener speaks well of her. She apparently tells him "You can only rely on yourself." A sad and lonely sentiment and yet very true for so many people.
He is determined to do for his son and be for his son, what his own father had not been to him.
Family is important. Parents have a duty to their children for the whole of their lives, offering love and support. Children have a duty to their parents and to their siblings.
As Christmas approaches I think 'family' is on my mind more and I wonder what it is that makes some people so unwilling to give of themselves, to share within their families. My sister has phoned me recently struggling with her bitterness I think as she meets grandparents who are so proud of their children and grandchildren-who babysit and help out.
Chris Gardener worked hard and he has made a life for himself and his children. I hope that life includes taking good care of each other.