WWII vet, growing toddler form remarkable bond
Age is no issue for this special friendship in Minnesota. A toddler and veteran, separated in birth by almost 9 decades, are kindred spirits and it all started with tomatoes. Emmett Rychner is three, going on four. Erling Kindem is 89, going on 90. Emmet's parents had to laugh the first time the saw their pre-schooler racing a man who fought in WWII. Erling was a man they had waved to, but barely knew, even though he lived right next door. Now, that's all changed. "They're together pretty much every day," said Emmett's mom, Anika. It started when Emmett first crossed into the yard when he caught glimpse of his favorite food: tomatoes. "Every time he saw me out there he would come running over. Erling, got any 'matoes?" Erling recalls. Since then, every day has been an adventure. "We saw Erling over working on this bike that looked like it was from the 60's. And I thought there's no way he's gonna get on this bike. And he did. It took him a couple times to get on his bike and I thought am I going to have to call 911 please don't fall over," Anika said. She wondered if the warm friendship would survive a cold, hard Minnesota winter. "One day I looked out the window and he was snowblowing a path straight from his backdoor to our backdoor," she said. All so the two could visit. "He likes to show him things and draw him pictures and explain," she said as tears well in her eyes. The reason for the tears? The family is preparing to pack up and move. "We decided back a month ago to move," Emmett's dad, Bryan, said the growing family needs more space. "I love him," Emmett says. As Anika describes it's the hardest part about moving. Erling agrees. "It's tough," he says. "Yeah. When you think about it." After all, changes are coming for him too. He'll be 90 soon, his wife is ill, and just a few days ago, his kids convinced him it was time to trade his house and yard for a senior apartment. But until then, Erling and Emmett will put goodbye on hold. "Erling come over here!" Emmett says. "I can hear you," Erling responds. This friendship that was planted and flourished in the winter, will have a bittersweet July end. "There's no replacement for Erling. We won't find a neighbor like him," Anika says.