Woman publishes book full of text messages sent to her dead husband’s cell phone

65-year old Toshiko Fukuda of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, lost her husband to asbestos on April 17th last year. Her husband, Motoo, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006, probably from the steel pipe factory he worked at. He got worker’s comp, but the disease ultimately destroyed his lungs and left him with hallucinations for the remainder of his life. Shocked, the widowed Fukuda started sending text messages to her dead husband every time she thought of something she wanted to say to him. Things like: “I couldn’t live if I didn’t think you were still beside me. I can’t live [without you]. I’m crying every day” and “I want to call you ‘Otosan’ to my heart’s content. Why do you have to be inside such a small urn?” Every time she sent a message, the phone by his home shrine vibrated (she made sure it was always charged).

Now she’s publishing a book with the loosely translated title Job Transfer to Heaven Without Family-I Wanted to Be With You Longer, a compilation of all her text messages from the past year that she hopes will educate the public about the dangers of asbestos. [via Yomiuri via Asia Daily News]

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
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18 Responses to Woman publishes book full of text messages sent to her dead husband’s cell phone

  1. nightingale says:

    she is great , the phone is a replacement for her husband!

  2. buysino2008 says:

    she is great , the phone is a replacement for her husband!

    Do you thanks so?

  3. Xeni Jardin says:

    That is amazing, Lisa.

  4. urshrew says:

    @4

    I’m glad you could reason out how inferior people who express their feeling are, as well as those who may gain something from reading those expressions.

    Please enjoy the rest of your reasonable superior life.

  5. General Specific says:

    I want a love like that.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh man, this is so sad and tender…

  7. Anonymous says:

    interesting sentiment but doesn’t sound like the most stimulating reading. there’s a reason many self-indulgent tomes don’t get published, apparently the marketing buzz prevented anyone from remembering this. maybe the same ppl that watch films like “marley and me” and “ghosts of ex girlfriends past” will enjoy this book

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’d buy that book.

  9. EscapingTheTrunk says:

    Given the increase in digital memorials, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a new use for Twitter. And it’s wonderful that her love is preserved in this way, especially because it might raise awareness for others. (Have other factory workers already succumbed to the asbestos? Excuse me for being knee-jerk litigious, but is there a class-action suit in the works?)

    Also, “otosan” as in: お父さん? Is this a common form of affection for one’s husband?

  10. Kyle Armbruster says:

    @ #4: Yes.

  11. 2+3=4 says:

    As someone intimately familiar with loss, I can understand why someone would not only write the messages, but feel a desire to publish it. Loss is a horrendous thing to deal with and we all do it in our own way. But, something I didn’t know until going through it myself was how desperate you become in wanting others to understand it in some way. You feel like an outsider and sharing the emotions, whether it be publishing these text messages or just crying over the phone to a friend, is often the only way to move on and start feeling more normal. Of course, you can try to ignore your feelings in an attempt to get back to living your life, but you just end up being consumed by them.

    So, congratulations to Mrs. Fukuda. Her messages might seem banal or trivial, but I’d read them for their intimacy and their humanity.

  12. Falcon_Seven says:

    @6 – ‘Otosan’ loosely translates as ‘Dad’ or ‘Father’ or ‘My Hero’, depending on context.

  13. Anonymous says:

    poor lady..

  14. grimc says:

    This reminds me of that story about a guy whose mom died after a long illness. Cancer, I think. While she was homebound, waiting for the end, she started playing some Nintendo game where you could leave messages and gifts for other players. A while after she passed, he started playing the game again and found that his mom had left him all sorts of goodies.

  15. kaelsleeps says:

    I’ve had a love like that (sez I).

  16. Anonymous says:

    @10
    I remember that. It was “Animal Crossing” she was playing, leaving notes and little in-game gifts all over for her kids.

    I hope when my time comes, there will be people who care. I don’t wish suffering on anyone, but to know that anyone in this world would dedicate some part of their mind to mourning you. I don’t know. It’s terribly depressing, partly for their loss and partly (selfishly) because I know I will die alone. I hope there is some kind of Heaven beyond here, so that lady may be reunited with her husband.

  17. Talia says:

    #11 oh golly, that story brings tears to my eyes. As a gamer I can just imagine it, and it just about kills me.

    Excuse me, I have to go cry now. :/

  18. Anonymous says:

    @#6 – yes, お父さん, or ‘Dad’ – it’s common for Japanese spouses to refer to each other as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ once they have kids.

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