Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton had their 5th Thanksgiving meal together despite the pain of losing Lonnie.
One grandmother accidentally united with a stranger through a text message and ended up inviting him to her Thanksgiving dinner for four continuous years. However, this year their union was bittersweet due to a death in the grandmother's family.
According to CNN, Wanda Dench met Jamal Hinton through a text message. Ever since then, Hinton has been a part of her Thanksgiving gathering. This year, too, the duo celebrated the holiday together. However, there was one person missing.
Dench's husband, Lonnie Dench passed away on April 5, 2020, after contracting coronavirus. Though Dench was initially didn't want to have the holiday meal without her husband, she decided to go ahead with it later on.
She said, "I wasn't looking forward to it at first because Lonnie wasn't going to be there. The past seven months have been so difficult, but this was really important to me." She added that it was a joy to have Hinton and his girlfriend, along with Dench's own daughter and grandson for dinner.
A bittersweet Thanksgiving for the grandmother and teenager who met via an accidental text in 2016 https://t.co/7ply7gSpBx— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) November 23, 2020
"I can't even explain how much joy I had, having good food with my favorite company. We laughed, we had a great time, we reminisced about the past. It was so good for all of us," said the grandmother. The group tested for the virus before gathering together to celebrate the holiday.
The group also tried to include Lonnie in their celebrations by keeping a photo of him at the table. Speaking of the meal, Hinton stated, "At first it was sad. We had a photo of Lonnie at the table with a candle lit, and we were all shaky in the beginning but it lasted five minutes before we were back to ourselves." The 21-year-old added, "We just told jokes and stories and shared our memories of Lonnie, so it was amazing."
Four years ago, a stranger was accidentally invited to Thanksgiving dinner via text message.— CNN (@CNN) November 22, 2020
Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton celebrated once again in Arizona, but there was an empty seat at the table. Dench's husband died in April from Covid-19 complications https://t.co/v598bhv3In
Hinton, who missed Lonnie's presence this year, stated Wanda's late husband would have been angry if they had let go of their traditional Thanksgiving meal because of his death.
"Lonnie was missing this year, and he was a big part of the Thanksgiving story and a big part of our lives, but that's one thing Wanda and I know for sure. Lonnie would have been very angry if we didn't have Thanksgiving together," said the young man.
Meanwhile, Dench recounted the devastating death of her husband. "I didn't believe I would have to go home without him. Even when he was in the hospital, I thought he would get better and come back to me. He was my soul mate. He was my biggest cheerleader," said the 63-year-old. She reminisced about his generosity and compassion to be there for those in need.
Hinton too recalled the great memories he had with Lonnie. He spoke of how Lonnie made him feel at home when he met the family for the first time in 2016.
"Lonnie was never the quiet guy. Right when I walked in the door the first time I met him, he didn't even reach out for a handshake. He just immediately pulled me in for a hug," said Hinton. He added, "He was the kind of guy to always bring your hopes up whenever you felt down. Losing him was losing a best friend."
Four years ago, a grandmother accidentally texted an invitation to her Thanksgiving dinner to a complete stranger. This year, despite the pandemic, they celebrated their fifth holiday together. https://t.co/2whYxlBCfa— News 3 Now / Channel 3000 (@WISCTV_News3) November 23, 2020
He was invited for the meal after Dench mistakenly texted him thinking he was her grandson. Despite clearing the confusion, Hinton, who was 17 at the time, asked Dench if he could still come. The grandmother of six readily agreed and said, "Of course you can. That's what grandmas do ... feed everyone!"
Having lost her husband to the virus, Dench urged people to be more patient. "I know it isn't easy, and everyone is frustrated and just wants to get back to normal. But we need to have hope and always care about other people," said the elderly woman.