Toddler and WWII Veteran become the unlikeliest of best friends

FARMINGTON, Minn. (KARE) — Emmett Rychner is 3 going on 4. And for no particular reason, he is driving his miniature lawnmower around the yard with his eyes closed. It only takes a few moments to realize that Emmett’s efforts aren’t going particularly well. Fortunately he has a mentor.

Erling Kindem is 89 going on 90 and the two of them have been friends for nearly a year. Emmett’s parents had to laugh the first time they saw their preschooler racing a man who fought in WWII. The man they’d waved to, but barely knew, who lived at the house next door.

“They’re together pretty much every day,” said Anika Rychner, Emmett’s mother. Emmett first crossed into Erling’s yard when he caught a glimpse of his favorite food, tomatoes.

“Every time he saw me out there he would come running over. Erling, got any ‘matoes?” said Kindem.

Every day is a new adventure for the two of them. Anika Rychner wondered though if so warm a friendship would survive the winter, “one day I looked out the window and he was snow-blowing a path straight from his backdoor to our backdoor. So they could visit, Yep.”

“He’s just taught [Emmitt] so much,” said Anika, fighting back tears. But the tears have been coming more often.

“We decided back a month ago to move,” Bryan Rychner says their growing family simply needs more space, “I love him. It is the hardest part about moving. It’s tough.”

Change is coming for Erling too. He’ll be 90 soon. His wife is ill and just days ago his kids finally convinced him it’s time to trade his house and yard for a senior apartment.

Until moving trucks roll, goodbyes will have to wait. This January-December friendship still has a bittersweet July.

Copyright KARE 11 via CNN
Script modified for this website.

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