Growing Up in Silence (Part II)

Born of two deaf parents, Samme had to assume a lot of family responsibilities from a tender age.

Samme. Photo: Jean-Sébastien Baciu

By Frédéric Lebeuf

Now in her 30s, Samme decided to live out her dream and become a professional singer. She also decided to devote herself to a cause very close to her heart: since January of 2020, this singer-songwriter has been the ambassador for la Fondation des Sourds du Québec (the Quebec Foundation for the Deaf).

Communication Problems

Even though she could communicate well with her parents, she admits that it was difficult to say exactly what was in her heart: “I simplified the content in order to make it easier for them to understand. Even though my Mom could see in my face what I was feeling, because deaf people develop a sixth sense, I could be a little more open with my friends or my brother.” Samme had to repeat things to her parents several times to make sure they understood her.

She often had to explain to her parents news items. Because she could sometimes understand more about what in the news than her parents, she feels: “Maybe they were frustrated because I was their daughter and I knew more about what was going on than they did. Did my parents accept their condition? Probably, but they felt powerless.”

Bullying

Many children made fun of her mother because she made very high-pitched sounds, à la Mariah Carey, when she talked. “They saw us as aliens, or as monkeys, because we gesticulated. Kids threw rocks through our window and cut our clothesline all the time. I can’t tell you if my mom even knew about all the verbal abuse she was subjected to.” Samme admits she held her frustrations deep inside for a long time. When things degenerated, her brother went about defending the family’s honor and got into a lot of fights.

But Samantha Meloche (her real name) was no shrinking violet. She spoke her mind when faced with abuse. And she wasn’t embarrassed to present her family to anyone. Indeed, she looked forward to such opportunities: “I was proud of them, says Samme in reference to her parents. “My friends were well adjusted to our lifestyle. They loved my parents, and wanted to communicate with them.”

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 28, no. 3, été (summer) 2020, pages 12-14

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