Yesterday we took my sister Beth to one of our favorite little towns, Sasayama. It is quaint and has some fun antique and souvenir shops.
We wandered into a kimono shop, where Beth tried on some fun Japanese-style wooden shoes for women. Ahh – a tad too small. But I found two Christmas presents, which the store owner wrapped for me. While we were waiting, she asked where I was from, and then shared that her sister had lived in Massachusetts. She began sharing with us that her sister had died about thirteen years ago – she hadn’t been able to go to the U.S. for the funeral. Her sister had a daughter and son, but she has lost touch of them and her letters have been returned. She looked so sad — I could imagine how it must have felt to lose your sister and then to lose touch with the only family who would help connect you.
I asked her if she’d like me to help track them down through the internet. Her face lit up. Her niece’s name, she said, is Michelle, but she doesn’t know her married name. She couldn’t right then remember much else. But she went to the back and returned with a faded return address label that she had in her coin purse – it was her sister’s name and address. I promised to do my best detective work, took her phone number and gave her mine, and we left.
Upon returning home, I checked our favorite friend-finder — Facebook! I could not find a Michelle with the last name as her sister. But I found a guy with the same last name who’s home was a town in Mass., and — he had a sister Michelle! She is now living in Virginia, but it listed a town in Mass. as her hometown as well. Looking at her photo, it seemed like she may be part Japanese. I hoped so! That is enough background. Here is the message that I sent her:
I am Sue Plumb Takamoto- an American living in Japan. I think that I met your aunt today while shopping in Sasayama, Japan, and ended up talking to her for awhile (her name). She shared with me about her sister Yumiko who had lived in Massachusetts, and that she had lost touch with Yumiko’s family the last few years after she passed away, and her mail has been returned. Because of the language issue, she didn’t know how to find her sister’s family. I offered to look on the internet, and that is how I came across your name and hope that you are Yumiko’s daughter! She remembered your first name, and I hoped there wouldn’t be too many on Facebook! Seeing that you are from Mass., and have a dad and brother from there – I am hoping….
I know that your aunt would love to regain contact with you and your family in some way if it’s possible. She was such a neat lady and I could tell loved Yumiko and her family so much. I have her phone number, and would be happy to call her with any information you are willing to have me give about you and your family (address, updates, whatever). My Japanese isn’t great but is fine for communicating so let me know how I can help.
My mom died about twenty years ago and it has become more and more important to me – or helpful – to be in touch with my mom’s sister and brothers -so I wanted to give you that same opportunity if you are interested.
Take care, Michelle. (And if this is not you I am SO sorry for this long note!)
I was SO excited to get this reply today:
I am so excited you have contacted me. I have tried for some time now to try to reach my family there – unfortunately via internet which has not worked. I had hoped because (my aunt) had 2 boys who should be in their 30’s that they might be connected on Facebook or My Space, but never had any luck. After the earthquake I was devastated and wanted more than ever to find them. This is most definitely my aunt. My mother was Yumiko and she passed about 14 years ago when I was 16 years old. My step-father hired a translator to contact my mom’s family to let them know she had passed since neither of us could speak Japanese.
I have been married to a wonderful guy for 5 years now. We have a beautiful son who will be 4 in November – his name is Ethan. I have been working with an import/export company for 10 years. Please let my aunt know that I have been doing quite well….
I imagine my aunt is probably not on the internet, right? My mailing address is as follows:
Sue – I want to thank you for contacting me. I am very appreciative of you offering to assist with getting my family back in contact with me. If there is any info you can pass along to me from my aunt I would appreciate it.
THANK YOU! I anxiously await your reply.
As I read aloud this message to my sister and a friend visiting, we all got teary-eyed. How wonderful it is to be able to find and reunite people. We are planning now another trip to Sasayama- this kind of information needs to be shared in person. So thankful that a new friend in Virginia and a new friend in Japan will be able to be reunited…. I love how God does things like this.