Gran and 'honorary grandson' honour her husband who died of Covid-19

A grandmother who accidentally invited a teenager she didn’t know to her home for Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 has welcomed him back for the fourth time, as they pay a sweet tribute to her late husband Lonnie, who passed away from Covid-19.

Wanda Dench first made headlines four years ago, after accidentally inviting Jamal Hinton to Thanksgiving dinner instead of her grandson.

After receiving the random text, Jamal asked if he could still come along, to which Wanda replied, ‘of course you can’, and has welcomed him to their family dinner every year since.

The story of Wanda and Jamal was shared thousands of times and has warmed hearts ever since, with Jamal posting pictures to social media of their Thanksgiving dinners over the years.  

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But the story of the unlikely friendship has taken a sad turn, as Wanda’s husband Lonnie passed away earlier this year as a result of coronavirus.

Lonnie, who was also close to Jamal and a regular fixture at their Thanksgiving dinners, had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus and pneumonia. He had been delivering water to supermarkets at night during the pandemic.

This year, Wanda and Jamal have continued their tradition of Thanksgiving dinner, this time in Lonnie’s honour, keeping a seat at the table for him in a heartfelt tribute.

Speaking to AZFamily, Wanda Dench said: ‘He had the truest heart of love, like no other. He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.’

At the time of Lonnie’s passing, Jamal wrote on social media that Wanda had said although her husband had died, ‘all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face’. Jamal went on tweet the Governor of Arizona to plead with him to take coronavirus more seriously and to handle it better, posting #StoptheSpread.

In the United States, there have been 12 million cases of coronavirus and over 250,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

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