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Unlikely Friendship Between Toddler and WWII Vet Will Melt Your Heart

Posted by on Jul. 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM
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1 mom liked this

 

Unlikely Friendship Between Toddler and WWII Vet Will Melt Your Heart

Jul 8, 2014, 1:21 PM ET
By YAZHOU SUN via Good Morning America
 
 
PHOTO: Emmett, left and Erling pose for a picture in their matching tractors.
Emmett, left and Erling pose for a picture in their matching tractors.
Courtesy Anika Rychner

Bryan and Anika Rychner of Farmington, Minnesota, had little interaction with the elderly man living next door for nearly a decade. At most, they'd exchange a smile or a wave in passing.

Things took a change last year when the family's 3-year-old son, Emmett Rychner, struck up an unlikely friendship with 89-year-old Erling Kindem -- over tomatoes.

 

PHOTO: Emmett, left, Erling and the family's daughter resting on the yard. 
Courtesy Anika Rychner
PHOTO: Emmett, left, Erling and the family's daughter resting on the yard.

 

"Erling grew some tomatoes in his yard and Emmett would always ask him, ‘Got any matoes?'" Bryan Rychner told ABC News.

The two quickly bonded. Very soon, Kindem was teaching Emmett how to fix a bike or throw a baseball. The two would race their matching tractors: Kindem in the real kind and Emmett in a toy replica.

"We are so blessed to have Erling in Emmett's life," Anika Rychner told ABC News. "My grandmother passed away last year and Emmett was close to her. To him, Erling is like a grandpa."

 

PHOTO: Emmett, left, and Erling biking together near the house. 
Courtesy Anika Rychner
PHOTO: Emmett, left, and Erling biking together near the house.

 

"It's great for both of them," Bryan Rychner said. "Emmett keeps Erling young at heart. Erling is incredibly patient to Emmett."

"He always takes the time to explain everything to a 3-year-old," he added. "They basically hang out together every day."

 

PHOTO: Erling, left and Emmett doing some yard work outside. 
Courtesy Anika Rychner
PHOTO: Erling, left and Emmett doing some yard work outside.

 

The inseparable duo will be split for a while though.

The Rychner family will be moving to a bigger house in Dundas, Minnesota, and Kindem's children have finally convinced him to move into a senior housing apartment.

"Ever since we had Emmett three years ago, we have been thinking about moving to a bigger house," Bryan Rychner said. "Our home is pretty small and we don't want to raise him in a basement when he gets older."

 

PHOTO: Erling, left, and Emmett tilling the garden together. 
Courtesy Anika Rychner
PHOTO: Erling, left, and Emmett tilling the garden together.

 

"I walked over to Erling's house and told him that there would be a 'Sale' sign on our yard soon, because we don't want it to be a shock for him," Anika Rychner said.

"He first said, 'It's OK. I know you want to move to a neighborhood with more kids,'" she recalled. "Before I could tell him that was not why we were moving, he said, 'It won't be long before there is a 'Sale' sign on my yard. I am not young anymore.'"

"I walked back and had a good cry," Anika Rychner said.

The Rychner family is scheduled to move to their new home on Aug. 11. Rychner said it's still unclear where Kindem would be moving to, but the senior housing in Northfield, Minnesota, would be only a 5-minute drive from the Rychner family's new home.

"Erling grew up in Northfield and he goes there every week to meet up with other World War II veterans," Rychner said. "It won't be the same because we are not living next door to each other anymore, but we are definitely going to let the two reunite when we move."

by on Jul. 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM
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Replies (1-8):
littlemum41
by Silver Member on Jul. 8, 2014 at 4:55 PM
1 mom liked this

So sweet !!! I love it! Thanks for this !

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jul. 8, 2014 at 5:27 PM
2 moms liked this

 They are too cute together

 

PHOTO: Emmett, left, and Erling biking together near the house. 
Courtesy Anika Rychner
PHOTO: Emmett, left, and Erling biking together near the house.
Carpy
by Ruby Member on Jul. 8, 2014 at 5:37 PM
1 mom liked this
Reminds me of a WWII vet and his great grandson I know. My Dad and my great nephew Walker. My dad has been gone since Walker was six but they were best buds. You can see the influence he had on walker to this day. He is 18 now.
GLWerth
by Gina on Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:06 AM
1 mom liked this

My kids were very close to two of the elderly ladies who lived next door to us when they were small. Sadly, both of those ladies are gone now and we all miss them.

Having friends of a very different generation is a good thing for kids.

Very sweet story.

numbr1wmn
by Nikki on Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Love this

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

 I remember growing up my Pop-Pop was Pop-Pop to everyone in the neighborhood including adults! lol but there was one neighbor that had a grandson and he was recently retired.

From the time that boy could walk it was him and his Pops as he called him. They fished together, took walks, went "camping" in their yard and would sit on their front step together for hours.

The grandparents started managing a campground in the summers and there are so many pics of him and Pops riding bikes and doing archery. Pops has since passed and his son now has a very special bond with his own 2 grand kids

So cute

Bieg9093
by Bronze Member on Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM

 Nothing "unlikely" about it. Kids like people who are patient and pay attention to them. I'll bet the old guy never even glances at his smartphone or tablet when the kid is visiting.

free1
by ~FreeSpirit~ on Jul. 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

So cute. 

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