It had been an entire year since 98-year-old Yoshia Uomoto hugged her son. Like so many others who reside in assisted living facilities, Yoshia was put under strict quarantine when the coronavirus lockdown began.
When her son Mark Uomoto (68) would come to see her at the Nikkei Manor in Seattle, their visits had to be conducted behind the safety of the lobby window. What complicated the already difficult form of visitation was the fact that Yoshia is very hard of hearing, so Mark had to communicate with his mother using a tablet.
But Nikkei Manor changed it’s visiting protocols once all residence were vaccinated, so Mark and his cousin Gail Yamada (the daughter of Yoshia’s sister, who was also a resident at Nikkei Manor until her death) decided to surprise Yoshia with their first in-person visit in a year.
“We wanted to carefully orchestrate it right,” he told TODAY. “It was so wonderful to hear, see her expression of excitement that she had because we’ve not seen Mom, my cousin and I, for over a year… So it was wonderful to see her and it was more heartwarming for me to see her reaction and so happy to see us.”
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To say she was surprised would be an under statement. Photos captured Yoshia covering her eyes with her hands as she took in the shock of seeing her son and niece up close, while Mark lovingly embraced his mother and stroked her hair with his hand.
Reuters captured the above photo of the sweet moment and posted it to Instagram, where it has received 30,ooo likes. Mark, Yoshia, and Gail were able to visit for an hour, where Mark updated her on all sorts of things that have happened over the past year.
“Things have changed at church, for example, bring her up to speed,” he said. “I told her that I was retired. She got so happy that I was retired.”
Mark said seeing the joy on his mother’s face when he surprised her is a memory he will carry with him forever. As far as the attention the Instagram photo has received (which has garnered many touching comments from viewers), Mark says it doesn’t surprise him.
“They’re all feeling the same way too,” he said. “They like to see that expression of love and joy, it warms their hearts. It’s wonderful to read those reactions like that.”
More photos of the sweet interaction can be viewed here at the DAILY MAIL.