Uit: Legend of a Suicide
“My mother gave birth on Adak Island, a small hunk of rock and snow far out on the Aleutian chain, at the edge of the Bering Sea. My father was serving two years as a dentist in the Navy; he had wanted Alaska because he liked hunting and fishing, but he obviously had not known about Adak at the time of his request. Had my mother known, she would have scratched out the request herself. Given enough information, my mother has never made the wrong choice.
So it was that she refused to have her sweltering, jaundiced baby yanked out of Adak’s underground naval hospital and thrown into the jet that sat waiting on the runway for more than six hours. Because my temperature was 105 degrees and still climbing, the doctors and my father recommended I be flown to the mainland, to a real hospital (no one on Adak survived even a mild heart attack while we were there — no one), but my mother refused. She was certain, with what my father always described as an animal, instinctive fear, that the moment I was borne aloft, I would perish. She placed me in an ordinary white bathtub filled with cold water, and there I survived. Flourished, even. My orange, blotchy skin gradually calmed to a healthy baby pink, my limbs unlocked, and I flailed my legs in the waters until she lifted me out and we both slept.
When my father had finished his sentence with the Navy, we moved to Ketchikan, an island in southeastern Alaska, where he bought a dental practice and, three years later, a fishing boat. The boat was a new twenty-three-foot Uniflite fiberglass cabin cruiser. Still wearing his dental smock beneath his jacket, he launched the boat late on a Friday afternoon as we cheered from shore. He slipped it into its stall in the docks, and the next morning he stood on the edge of those docks looking down thirty feet through clear, icy Alaskan water to where the Snow Goose sat like a white mirage on the rounded gray stones. My father had named it the Snow Goose because he had been filled with dreams of its white hull flying over the waves, but he had forgotten to put in the drain plugs the afternoon of the launching. Unlike my mother, he had neither eyes nor ears for matters below the surface.”
David Vann (Adak Island, 19 oktober 1966)