Since their first meeting on Thanksgiving thanks to an accidental invitation, grandmother Wanda Dench and student Jamal Hinton have been meeting for five years now, each documented with pictures on social media. But their latest meeting prompted messages of support from people after they realised that the woman’s husband died earlier this year due to Covid-19.
Hinton posted photos from this year’s meeting and from their previous celebrations saying,”5 years strong! Happy Thanksgiving everyone”. In the photo from this year’s meeting they held a picture of Lonnie, Dench’s husband, who who passed away in April due to Covid-19.
Hinton posted another photo of them and thanked Dench for another amazing Thanksgiving experience.
“Thank you @wandadench for such an amazing celebration! You are such a blessing to this world. We miss you Lonnie,” he wrote.
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 26, 2020
The internet first learnt of Dench and Hinton when she accidentally invited him to Thanksgiving celebrations instead of her grandson in 2016. Once the two Arizona residents realised the mistake, Hinton, who was then a 17-year-old high school student, asked if he could “still get a plate.”.
Dench replied, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do…feed everyone.”
Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Ayee!!! pic.twitter.com/QGrx83nHLl
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 15, 2016
Their Thanksgiving meetings have been an annual event since then. Dench and Hinton decided to mantain the tradition this year despite her husband’s death to honour her husband of 43 years.
“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 told CNN.
As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning😔 but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!🙏🏽❤️ https://t.co/tNvals0FMh
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) April 9, 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,” she said.
Due to the pandemic, their gathering was smaller and more intimate this year.
“I didn’t want to miss Thanksgiving with Jamal,” Dench told KPHO. “This year is definitely different than all the years in the past.”
To honour her husband, they kept an empty seat at the table and a lit candle was placed at the head of the table.
“I always remember Lonnie looking at the bright side of things,” Hinton told The New York Times. “He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating COVID and hating everything.”
Many on social media praised the duo for continuing their annual tradition.
I loved this story… seeing him in da frame made me sad tho…..🥺❤️✨ https://t.co/HP54qxbK1D
— Cyn Santana (@Cyn_Santana) November 27, 2020
THIS IS THE BEST INTERNET STORY https://t.co/pXekhxFPv8
— joshua rush (@JoshuaRush) November 27, 2020
Happy to see this is still goin 👏🏻👏🏻atleast something is right in 2020 https://t.co/2J1ZBJrfSm
— VitaleShoots (@Paul_Vitale721) November 27, 2020
This still is one of my favorite Thanksgiving stories ever. Sad that her husband passed away, but glad to see they’ve kept the tradition going. https://t.co/9KMEWwmVoK
— Knud G. Ferdinand (@kgferdy25) November 27, 2020
This gets me everytime. Love that its a tradition for them 🥺 https://t.co/XdzSF86bhJ
— The Good Shepherd. (@WesleyAdi) November 27, 2020
i was waiting for this. rip lonnie you’ll be missed 🥺💜 https://t.co/fExhp3cv2o
— ᴮᴱathena⁷ ₈ (@sinnersuga) November 27, 2020
i’m not crying, you are. https://t.co/FvEtjsLzwJ
— squeeze (@marlamoniquee) November 27, 2020
— Denise (@FuckenDenise) November 26, 2020
I forgot 2020 took grandpa… this year is garbage pic.twitter.com/cTHC5tEj6X
— Miguel DeCafe (@TheMiguelCAFE) November 26, 2020
Seeing these updates each year has genuinely become one of my favourite Thanksgiving traditions.
As bittersweet as this year is, I’m so happy you were able to keep it alive—safely and responsibly at that.
Rest peacefully, Lonnie. 💙
— ☃️ Christopher ☃️ (@LeChristopherAG) November 26, 2020
Jamal, bless you and Wanda for continuing such a beautiful legacy of love year after year. You are BOTH a blessing to this world! You honor Lonnie so well 🙏🏼
— Annie (@pinkanniekate) November 26, 2020
Yours is my all time favorite Thanksgiving story. Speaks to the purity of love. RIP Lonnie. You left behind an amazing Thanksgiving story filled with love and acceptance. America needs to remember this more than ever. 💔💔💞
— Happy Canadian (@macarthur54) November 26, 2020
Thank you for always sharing your story. Your bond is the light in all the darkness that we all need this year. I am so sorry for your loss. Peace & love to you both! 🙏🏻
— Queen ofthe Universe (@QofTU) November 26, 2020