The internet’s viral “Thanksgiving grandma” served turkey dinner early this year — and with her husband, who died of COVID-19, missing from the table.
Still, Wanda Dench welcomed for a fourth year her accidental “grandson,” Jamal Hinton, the young stranger who is now like family thanks to her famously misfired text.
Dench gained fame in 2016, after accidentally sending the then-17-year-old Hinton an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner — with a text she’d meant to send her actual grandson.
Realizing her mistake, Dench and her husband, Lonnie, told the teen to come over anyway — and he did, that year and every year since.
Dench and Hinton, now 21, recently had Thanksgiving dinner in her Mesa, Ariz. home, CBS reported.
They remembered Lonnie Dench and talked about their four-year friendship.
“It’s going to be different, my first Thanksgiving without him,” Dench had 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.”
This year, the pair placed a framed photo of Lonnie on the table and set a plate aside for him to honor him during their annual tradition.
Hinton had tweeted in April that his adoptive grandparents were battling the coronavirus. He later tweeted that Lonnie passed away from the virus.
“As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it … he passed away Sunday morning,” Hinton had tweeted at the time.
“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!”
Despite the loss and heartbreak, Dench and Hinton said they’re happy they have each other.
“I’m just grateful that we are here, we are together,” Hinton told The Times.
“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.”