How did Lonnie die? ‘Thanksgiving grandma’ celebrates festival with stranger she accidentally texted 4 years ago

Wanda Dench had mistakely texted Jamal Hinton, thinking him to be her grandson, in 2016, that mistaken conversation resulted in a heartwarming friendship which is still going strong


                            How did Lonnie die? ‘Thanksgiving grandma’ celebrates festival with stranger she accidentally texted 4 years ago
(Jamal Hinton/YouTube/Twitter)
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In 2016, Wanda Dench was unaware that her grandson had changed his phone number when she invited him to her house for Thanksgiving dinner at 3 pm sharp. Initially, the stranger who received the text was confused but then a conversation gave rise to a beautiful friendship and thanksgiving invitation which has continued since.

The stranger — Jamal Hinton – then a 17-year-old high school junior, had texted: "You not my grandma. Can I still get a plate though?” “Of course you can,” Dench, 63, of Mesa, Arizona, responded. “That’s what grandma’s do … feed every one.”

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And, as The New York Times reports, it was the beginning of a holiday tradition that has interested the world. Hinton tweeted photos of their exchange, which caught the internet’s attention and Dench received so many requests for plates that year that she had to change her number. A few weeks later, he did take up Dench’s offer, and the duo and their families have celebrated that Thanksgiving together since then. She even has an entry as ‘Thanksgiving Grandma’ at KnowYourMeme, the online database of the internet’s favorite moments.

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This year, however, things are different for everyone. Both Dench and Hinton evaluated the risks of holding a Thanksgiving celebration during the pandemic. They deliberated if they could find a way to celebrate together early in the day, before going off to see their respective families, but decided the risk of spread was too great. With cases rising, states officials and health experts have requested people to scale down their Thanksgiving celebrations.

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So, instead of a large multifamily event, Dench and Hinton had a small dinner on Friday, November 20, where they expressed gratitude and talked about their friendship, and her husband Lonnie’s death. During their meal, they kept a burning candle and portrait of Mr Dench in front of his seat at the table. “It’s going to be different, my first Thanksgiving without him,” she told NYT. “My husband was always right behind me, telling me how proud he was of Jamal and me for what we’ve done.”

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Hinton said, “I always remember Lonnie looking at the bright side of things. He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating Covid and hating everything.” Hinton also added, “I’m just grateful that we are here, we are together. I don’t know what I would be doing for the holidays this year, last year or years before if I didn’t have Wanda in my life, so I’m just grateful.”

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(YouTube)

People on Twitter were also moved by their bond and talked about it. One said, “Faith in humanity restored when I first read about this. Sad to learn that the husband passed away last year. Sweet of them to carry on this tradition.” Another said, “I remember this story when it first happened. How lovely this friendship has continued.” One stated, “I had no idea she lost her husband. I’m glad that she made it and that they’re together to share in this holiday.” A user commented, “Thank you so much for continuing to update us on Wanda and Jamal. This story has really stuck with me over the years as an ongoing example of what life could and should be like. Happy Thanksgiving.”

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