Young Boy, WWII Veteran Form Unexpected Friendship

By Jonathan Wolfe, Tue, July 08, 2014

Prepare for your heart to be warmed.

For almost ten years, the Rychner family and World War II veteran Erling Kindem have been neighbors in Farmington, Minnesota. Anika Rychner says that until recently, the two households rarely interacted outside of the occasional friendly wave and hello.

Then, last year, the Rychner’s three-year-old son Emmett changed all of that. Emmett, who has a curiously strong love of tomatoes, noticed Erling tending to a few of the plants in his garden and decided to pay him a visit. From there, a friendship between two people almost 90 years apart bloomed.

“Every time he saw me out there he would come running over,” Kindem told KARE.

In the last year, the unlikely pals bonded while fishing, biking, or throwing a baseball together. Emmett’s parents are in awe of how much energy Kindem devotes to their young son.

“His patience is unbelievable,” Bryan Rychner said. “He see Emmett outside playing, he’ll find a reason to go outside.”

Emmett even inspired Kindem to hop on a bike again. Anika Rychner recalls looking on in disbelief as the 89-year-old man pulled out a rusty old bike from his garage and pumped up the tires with Emmett.

“I thought there’s no way he’s gonna get on this bike,” Anika said, laughing. “I thought, am I going to have to call 911, please don’t fall over.”

Sure enough, just a few minutes later, Kindem was riding down the street with Emmett by his side.

When Minnesota’s bitter cold winter came, Emmett’s mother worried the frigid weather would put a hold on the pair’s friendship. Not so.

“I was in the kitchen and I heard the snow blower going, sounds like Erling is really close to the house,” she said. “I opened the window and he was snow-blowing a path from his back door to our back door.”

Now, with the Rychner family scheduled to move soon and Kindem and his wife moving to a senior citizens apartment, the two realize their days together are numbered. Until that time comes, expect more of the same from these two friends.

“It’s tough,” Kindem said.

Emmett’s mother, meanwhile, could not be more grateful for the time the two have had together.

“He’s just taught him so much,” she said.

Source and Photo Credit: KARE

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