Josef from Poland goes into his barn to check on the condition of his bees. He is 76 years old when he collapses to the ground. An ambulance is called to the scene, care of his wife. No pulse or breathing is apparent. His body has cooled. A no-brainer: Doc says Josef from Poland is dead. The certificate is drafted, that is to say, the death certificate, which, I am sure, will eventually find its way through bureaucratic tape and end up filed away somewhere in the records office, where every other death in Poland is recorded and saved for posterity. In this way, history as we know it grows, gets older, but not old enough to forget. History remembers everything, even those who have gone unrecorded, lost but not forgotten. Or, as in the case of Josef from Poland, lost but not really. Shortly before closing the coffin, his wife asks the undertaker if he can get the necklace for her that Josef wore around his neck when he collapsed to the ground in the bee barn. While you’re at it, says his son-in-law, can you also grab his watch for keepsake. The undertaker is in no position to deny the beekeeper’s family of their husband/father-in-law’s accessories, and why shouldn’t they want them, thinks the undertaker, if in the ground they are worthless. But as he takes the necklace off Josef’s neck, he happens to touch an artery. There is a pulse, he shouts, there is a pulse. Doc, who had issued the death certificate not too long ago, revisits the man he never thought he’d see again, not even in his dreams, and, this time, pronounces him alive, with a pulse of about 20 to 30 beats per minute.
Lost But Not Really
History will definitely remember Josef from Poland, not because he is the only case of suspended animation that the doctors in Poland [Katowice] have known, but because he rested in his coffin, seconds away from being buried alive, and yet somehow lived to give the undertaker a pot of honey.
Bless the bees.