Grandma spends fifth Thanksgiving with complete stranger, first since her husband died of COVID-19

You’ll all remember the heartwarming story of Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton, the complete strangers who ended up spending Thanksgiving together in 2016 when Wanda texted Jamal by accident instead of her grandson.

You might also know that the pair have continued the tradition each year since. Well, they celebrated Thanksgiving a little early this year, and it was the first for Wanda without her husband, Lonnie.

As per reports, Lonnie passed away in April after contracting COVID-19. Though saddened, Wanda and Jamal wanted to continue their tradition to honor him.

“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,” Wanda explained.

She told CNN: “It was a joyful day, with good food and my favourite company.

“We laughed, we had a great time, we reminisced about the past. It was so good for all of us.”

Jamal’s girlfriend and Wanda’s daughter and grandson were also present at this year’s festivities, which they undertook early so they could test themselves for coronavirus before celebrating with their own families.

Of the occasion, Jamal said:

“At first it was sad. We had a photo of Lonnie at the table with a candle lit, and we were all shaky in the beginning but it lasted five minutes before we were back to ourselves. We just told jokes and stories and shared our memories of Lonnie, so it was amazing.”

Wanna and Lonnie, who were married for 41 years, both experienced COVID-19 symptoms earlier on this year, near the beginning of the pandemic. Wanda’s condition improved, but sadly Lonnie’s did not. He passed away on April 5.

“I didn’t believe I would have to go home without him,” Wanda explained. “Even when he was in the hospital, I thought he would get better and come back to me. He was my soul mate. He was my biggest cheerleader.”

The story of Wanda and Jamal sharing Thanksgiving back in 2016 went viral around the world, and since then it’s become a staple of the celebration each year.

Rest in peace, Lonnie!

While the passing of her husband is heartbreaking, we’re happy Wanda was able to experience Thanksgiving with Jamal, as has become custom. I don’t know about you, but I think love and sharing is what Thanksgiving is all about!

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