The earliest dreams I can remember always involved my grandma.
One could say that I was obsessed with my grandma as a child. A part of it is because she was deaf like me. We’d lock eyes – signing stories after stories to each other. She was an amazing storyteller. I recall countless hours spent listening to her telling me stories about her past. Growing up in Nova Scotia. Being sent to the Halifax School for the Deaf without understanding that she was deaf. All the experiences she had at that school. Meeting her first love and experiencing her first heartbreak. Her relationships with her siblings. Meeting my grandpa. Raising my mom. Her hopes and struggles. Tell me more – I’d beg. Tell me everything about you.
She always said she wanted to write a memoir but never did. In a way I suppose she did, except that it was not pen to paper – it was her hands to my eyes.
Another part of it was that she gave me a lot of attention. I was number one to her and what child doesn’t want to feel special? She wanted to spend all her time with me – in a way she also really needed to be someone’s number one as well. I greedily drank it all up. I couldn’t get enough of this wondrous signing grandmother who was always making magic with her hands – crafts, food, stories. An endless supply of things to bribe me with.
What I didn’t understand was that she was psychologically abusing me. That the web of stories she would spin with me behind closed doors were not okay. She was slowly steeping into my head, leaving stains of lies and confusion that would only start to fade after many years of self work and therapy.
But in my earliest dreams, it was almost as if my brain was desperately trying to warn me of what was happening and of what was to come.
I’m at the Market Square in Victoria. It’s a three floor building with an opening in the middle for booths, gatherings, and lounging around. The building is composed of many different stores and restaurants. I have many fond memories of this space as a child, teenager, and adult. Most people have strong emotional ties to homes they grew up in but my family moved so often that what felt consistent was the places we would visit. The buildings, beaches, parks, streets, and even specific trees.
My sister is beside me – we’re wandering in and out of stores. Searching for something but we don’t know what exactly. We peek into one store on the second floor and discover that the entire room was full of gems. We gleefully dig our way through the room, shoving gems into our pockets. After a while, I look down at my hands and see that the gems have turned into maggots.
We slowly make our way to the top of the building where our grandmother lived. Upon our arrival – we find our grandma waiting for us inside. I start telling her about the store full of gems that turned into maggots. I sense my sister slowly fading away into the shadows until she’s no longer with us. It’s only grandma and me now – like it always is.
As I tell grandma this story, I see her face looking at me. It looks distorted. Something was wrong. I stop telling the story and start to back away from her. She keeps her eyes fixed at me as her mouth shapes into that familiar small tight smile. I notice that her left arm is hiding something behind her back. She signs with her right hand that she would fix me.
She raises her left arm, it’s a hammer in her hand. She swings it down and crushes my skull.