Grandma who accidentally invited teen for Thanksgiving loses husband to COVID-19

In 2016, Jamal Hinton received an accidental text from Wanda Dench inviting him for Thanksgiving dinner. Four years later, Dench's husband died of COVID-19.
In 2016, Jamal Hinton received an accidental text from Wanda Dench inviting him for Thanksgiving dinner. Four years later, Dench's husband died of COVID-19. Jamal Hinton/Twitter

Four years ago, an Arizona grandmother captured hearts when she accidentally invited the wrong person over for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, she’s in the news for a sad event, thanks to COVID-19.

Wanda Dench, the grandmother in question who befriended a teenage stranger over a texting mix-up, just lost her husband, Lonnie, to the novel coronavirus, KDVR-TV reports.

The stranger was Jamal Hinton, who was invited over to celebrate the holiday anyway, despite the mistake. He brought his girlfriend, Mikaela, and their families for the following four Thanksgiving dinners.

READ MORE: Thanksgiving text message mix-up brings two Arizona families together

Hinton took to Twitter to share his condolences with Wanda, writing: “As some of you may have already found out tonight, Lonnie did not make it … 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.”

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On April 1, he asked his Twitter followers to send words of “love and encouragement” to Wanda and Lonnie as he battled COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Back in 2016, Wanda tried to text her biological grandson but accidentally texted Jamal instead. It didn’t matter though β€” her home, and heart, was big enough for everyone.

READ MORE: Nursing home patient reportedly asked Alexa for help before dying of coronavirus

“He had the truest heart of love, like no other,” Wanda said of her late husband, in texts to KDVR-TV. “He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about.”

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“He was my hero, and I’m a better person because of him.”


Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing β€” very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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