An accidental Thanksgiving day text message has led to a beautiful heartfelt friendship between a grandma and a teen.
Wanda Dench sent Jamal Hinton a text message by mistake around this time in 2016, thinking he was her favorite grandson and inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner.
But the text resulted in a yearly tradition for them as Hinton, now 20, has been spending every Thanksgiving with Dench, 62, and her family since that incident.
Their friendship is not only a turkey tradition but much more than that. Hinton says, he sees Dench “about once every two months,” despite them living in Arizona towns miles apart as Hinton is in Phoenix and Dench is in Mesa.
“We’ve become really good friends,” he said, “Unfortunately, our schedules don’t usually line up too well and we live an hour and a half apart, but we have managed to have a couple dinners at her house and restaurants.”
They also use text to stay in touch, “We text to check on each other,” he says, noting they plan to see each other even more often — including this holiday season. Last month, the two went to a pumpkin patch together, along with Dench’s husband, Lonnie, and Hinton’s girlfriend, Mikaela.
Hinton was 17 years old when he received Dench’s accidental text and wrote back to her “You not my grandma,” he wrote and asked for a selfie of the random grandma to prove the mix-up.
After exchanging pictures, Hinton asked if he could “still get a plate” of food at her house and Dench invited him over for dinner anyway. “Of course you can,” Dench replied. “That’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.”
Their friendship story has gone viral thanks to a tweet from Hinton — “Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Ayee!!!” — which garnered 127,000 likes.
2016, 2017…… 2018 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0ZNA54uGAS
— Jamal Hinton (@kingjamal08) November 23, 2018
Hinton has carried on the tradition in 2017, bringing girlfriend Mikaela with him and the next year as well. Now this year too they have plans to meet “We’re still figuring out when and where,” Hinton says, noting he’s currently in the middle of a move to Tempe with his girlfriend — their first apartment together.
“We actually move in the day before Thanksgiving,” says Hinton, who’s currently taking a semester off school to plan his career in the automotive industry. “If we can get the apartment moved in and set up in time who knows, maybe we could have a nice get together at our new place.”
He still fondly remembers their friendship, “We are both really passionate and love talking about our story and how many people have reached out to us and told us how it affects them,” he says.
“We are both very happy and grateful that we could be the centerpiece to such an amazing story and bring joy and faith in so many different people.”
Hinton says the genuine joy people get when they hear their story is what impacts him. “I love when people tell me it restores their faith in humanity which I get A LOT,” he says. “It makes me feel good knowing something I was a part of affected so many people in a good way.”