2016 feels like a thousand years ago.
Things were absolutely not ideal back then, but at least we weren’t shouldering the difficulties of a global public health catastrophe.
And with concerns about virus transmission casting a massive cloud over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, we can’t help but call to mind a much quainter Thanksgiving anecdote from four years ago.
In 2016, the internet went wild over an adorable story spurred by an accidental text message to the wrong number.
Wanda Dench accidentally sent a text inviting Jamal Hinton to Thanksgiving dinner at her house. She meant to send it to her grandson.
Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Ayee!!! pic.twitter.com/QGrx83nHLl
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 15, 2016
Both Dench and Hinton were open-minded enough to share the meal together anyway, and it set into motion an inter-generational friendship and an annual tradition: a shared Thanksgiving each year.
A 2019 tweet proved that the tradition was going strong three years after it began.
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 29, 2019
People on the internet totally loved witnessing the heartwarming story.
This is just the most beautiful story ever. My heart is so full and I have happy tears reading this. These are two amazing human beings…the Grandmother for being so loving and the accidental Grandson for being an absolute treasure. I adore you both.
— Living Kidney Donor (@NancyLCouch1) November 30, 2019
This is needs to be the new Thanksgiving. Not that ridiculous fiction, but this. Be so thankful you invite a stranger in! You and your families are wonderful!
— 𝑾𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒆-𝑪𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒚 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒔𝒕! (@ny_marine) November 30, 2019
You guys are literally restoring people’s faith in human connection. I hope you know just how precious that is.
— Renee Pope-Munro (@RenInOz) November 29, 2019
Still the best feelgood story there is
— Number One Bad Boy (@The_Warlock_86) November 29, 2019
But Dench and Hinton’s wonderful tradition, like so many across the world, was dealt a tragic blow when they encountered the harsh realities of the pandemic.
In April 2020, Hinton shared the news that both Dench and her husband, Lonnie had come down with the virus.
And just a week later, Hinton shared another update informing that Lonnie passed away.
As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning😔 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!🙏🏽❤️ https://t.co/tNvals0FMh
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) April 9, 2020
The internet was heartbroken.
Man this is heart breaking to the core. I remember reading this story and thinking to myself that humanity will never be lost with people like this. The world truly lost a good one. My heart goes out to all of you and your days be brighter.
— Richard (@Texas_talon) April 9, 2020
I’m so sorry for your loss. I loved hearing how you all met & this is a heart wrenching twist in an otherwise lovely story. Please give our deepest sympathies to Wanda, & let her know that she will be in our thoughts & prayers. We will pray that Lonnie will watch over her now.
— Kristin MD (@Kristin_MD) April 9, 2020
Very sorry to hear that, you were lucky to have that mistaken connection ❤️. Hang in there 🙏
— KRISTINA 🍀🇺🇸☮️ 🎼🇮🇱 (@KristinaJulia2) April 9, 2020
Oh man, I am so sorry to hear this. My condolences. What a sad event, in such a wonderful Thanksgiving story, that we have followed for years.
— sarainitaly 🎃🌶☕ (@sarainitaly) April 9, 2020
But Hinton and Dench were not about to take 2020 laying down.
Thanksgiving isn’t going to be the same anymore but we will make the best of it 😔
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) October 9, 2020
As Hinton shared in an interview with “Good Morning America,” he’s been quarantining for two weeks so he and Dench can still get together for the holiday.
He went on to explain how much he values his friendship with Dench.
“It’s become a huge part of our lives.”
“It’s great being part of something so loving and having people around the world to talk to us and being touched by our story.”
Hinton and Dench’s story somehow has managed to capture both the tragedy of 2020 alongside the wonderful human capacity to remain connected and hopeful in the face of all this hardship.