COURTESY OF GUS WATERS
There was once a dirty cream-tan mobile home entrenched deep in the Northern Panhandle district of Idaho, on the outskirts of the small lumber town of Sandpoint. The tiny and cramped mobile home, which still had its trailer hitch stuck to it, was where I lived with my father as my primary home from 2004-08.
My secondary home, where I lived with my mother, like her, was nomadic. It traveled first from the house of her opioid-addicted boyfriend, then to a rat-infested house overlooking a steep and dangerous rapid, to finally Blue Haven Homeless Taskforce, Sandpoint’s best effort to muster quarters for its most needy.
My dad never needed help to get by, held a steady job and always brought home dinner. My mom, on the other hand, was led astray, pill after pill, house after house, boyfriend after boyfriend and bad decision after bad decision. My mother was never given the correct tools to succeed. She had a doctor who put their desire to profit off prescribing addictive painkillers over the life of their patients. She was never given adequate mental healthcare to help her cope with the crippling anxiety and depression that she had and still has today.
My father didn’t have all the tools given to him either. What he had was an abusive father who didn’t care for his son. He overcame it and is one of the most hardworking, caring and loving people that I know. He helped me at every turn, helping me do well in school and teaching me not to make excuses for my bad behavior.
Most importantly, he taught me the ever-pressing need to make the world around you better not only for yourself but for everyone who lives in it. He is the reason I care so much about making this world we share a better and more equal place.
My mother brought me down; my father brought me back up.