Viral grandma and teen share early Thanksgiving dinner to honor husband who died from COVID


Two families reunited once again to celebrate Thanksgiving together, and it’s all thanks to an accidental text from 2016.

It was the story that touched all of our hearts four years ago when Wanda Dench, now 63, thought she was texting her grandson to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, she texted now 21-year-old Jamal Hinton.

He asked for a photo to verify if it was actually his grandma texting him, but when the picture came back of a woman in blonde hair, he texted back, “[You’re] not my grandma. Can I still get a plate [tho]?”

"Of course you can," Dench replied. "That's what grandma's [sic] do... feed everyone [cake emoji]"

After their text-exchange went viral, Hinton actually showed up for Thanksgiving dinner, and has been attending every year. It’s become a tradition between Dench and Hinton, who update fans with photos from every holiday.

This year, the festivities looked a bit different not just because of the restrictions brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, Dench’s husband, Lonnie Dench, who would join his wife and Hinton for dinner, passed away due to complications from COVID.

Hinton recently told “Good Morning America” that he was making it a priority to spend the holidays with Dench this year. He said he quarantined for two weeks so that they could enjoy an in-person, socially-distanced meal together.

The pair met up on Friday for pre-Thanksgiving dinner out of an abundance of caution for their families. It marked their fifth Thanksgiving together.

They honored Lonnie during the meal by setting a plate next to a framed photo of him and a candle, according to photos from CBS reporter Briana Whitney.

"It's become a huge part of our lives," Hinton told “GMA.”  "It's great being part of something so loving and having people around the world to talk to us and being touched by our story."

He also explained that Lonnie was always “very supportive” of Hinton’s Thanksgiving with Densch.

“He was just a [good] friend,” he added.

“It’s going to be different, my first Thanksgiving without him,” Dench recently told The New York Times. “My husband was always right behind me, telling me how proud he was of Jamal and me for what we’ve done.”

Hinton has been a rock for Dench during this difficult time. He joined her for dinner in July, shortly after Lonnie’s passing.

"It's been kind of trying since Lon passed away back on April 5 from COVID-19," Dench said in a video shared from the dinner.

She thanked people for the outpouring of support, adding: "It was just really heartwarming and helped me get through a lot of tough days.It's still going to take a lot of time ... but when I get visits from these guys, it really perks me up.”

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