Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984-87) works internationally, supporting refugees and local communities affected by war and natural disasters. Her first book, Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa (2013), is a collection of narrative essays and verse, highlighting the profound personal connections she experienced overseas. She is also the author of White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky (2016), a book of poetry that includes “thought experiments” on the nature of reality. Borderland: An Exploration of States of Consciousness in New and Selected Sonnets (2018) explores how nature and science collide to create our collective consciousness.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dargis holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development from the Gorge Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. in Integral Health from the California Institute for Human Science, a research facility dedicated to the mind-body-spirit connection. “That Family” appears in See You in My Dreams: A Daughter’s Journey with her Father through Dementia in Sonnets, Julie’s fourth book.
The first night that my father was in the
Hospital, he had a single room. An
Aid was called to be by his side twenty-
Four seven, to avert a fall. He had
A new bleeder in his brain that had spawned
An unusually fervent event
That had lasted sixteen hours. A strong
Psychotropic on top of two rounds of
Ativan, or check for a UTI
Were the options. At the hospital, I
Met a Mr. Dargis that I had not
Previously known. My sister, Cheri,
Had. Two years earlier, he’d fractured a
Hip. I had traveled with the man from the
Nursing home to the ER. As soon as
The paramedics had arrived, my dad
Was docile. “The placebo effect,” I
Said. Within an hour, however, a new
Man emerged. “How did you get me into
This?” he probed. “I’m going to sue. This will cost
A fortune!” I handed the man his teeth.
He swatted my hand away and warned me
Not to touch anything that he owned. The
Doctor came in, telling us of the new
Bleeder. “Why am I not the one hearing
This for the first time?” the man yelled loudly.
The doctor asked us if we had thought of next
Steps. He suggested palliative care
While the man was hospitalized. He has
An advance directive, we said. The man
Pointed at me, my sister, and our friend.
“I don’t want anything from you, or you,
Or even you!” An hour later, his room
Was ready, and we followed him to the
Trauma ward. In the morning, my dad got
A roommate. Eddy had fallen at his
Lake home, and he had a feeding tube. When
The doctor asked his wife what she wanted
To do, she said that as long as he could
Respond, the tube would stay in, even if
It needed to be put in his stomach.
The next day, the son arrived, demanding
He be shown all that his mother had signed.
The decree? He’d determine what was best.
My sibs and I had brawled with our mother.
Things had boiled over. More than once, I’d heard:
“I don’t want us to be that family.”
Or, “We are not that family.” Yet, we
Were all on different pages, at odds
With not only each other, but ourselves.
More than ever, we were that family.
We were every family. I’d been
Staying with my mother for weeks. Between
Jobs, I was in desperate need of work.
Nonetheless, I was clocking overtime —
Toiling at the heart of that family.