A 3-year-old boy named Emmett Rychner developed an unlikely friendship with 89-year-old World War II Veteran Erling Kindem.
The two were next-door neighbors in Farmington, Minnesota back in 2014, and Emmett ventured over to Erling’s house one day to look for tomatoes. The young boy saw tomato plants in Erling’s yard and that simple plant helped blossom a beautiful friendship between the two neighbors.
In an interview shared by HLN, Emmett’s mom said Emmett and Erling spent “pretty much every day” together for around a year.
She added that Emmett was learning a ton from Erling.
While their friendship was unlikely given the age gap, it was beautiful for Emmett’s mom to witness.
Unfortunately, Emmett’s family ended up moving away to a bigger house while Erling moved into a nursing home.
The two friends enjoyed their last few months together as neighbors and made a point to remain friends after the moves.
Check out the video below:
A few months after Emmett’s family moved away and Erling settled into his nursing home, NBC Nightly News checked in with the two to see how they were doing.
According to the report, Erling was able to drive to Emmett’s house for the occasional playdate and he was sure to bring one of Emmett’s favorite fruits: tomaotes.
An update tonight on a story that brought about a huge response from our viewers when we first told you the story about the little boy and his neighbor and best friend, who just happened to be a World War II veteran. KARE 11 News' Boyd Huppert reports:Watch the extended report from KARE11: http://nbcnews.to/1usK4pw
Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Friday, September 12, 2014
In 2015, USA Today shared a special video featuring Emmett getting to visit Erling in the nursing home for his 90th birthday celebration.
A 90th birthday is a big deal and Emmett was able to share that special moment with Erling and Erling’s wife.
Erling’s wife passed away later in 2015 and the veteran was left alone in the nursing home. Emmett continued to visit until Erling passed away in October of 2016.
Years passed, but the impact Erling left on Emmett’s life hasn’t faded. KARE 11 caught up with 9-year-old Emmett in 2020 and as it turns out, his biggest hobby is airplanes – which Erling used to fly in the military!
Emmett and his family still visit Erling’s grave and talk about him to keep his memory alive. It’s amazing what a beautiful impact Erling had on everyone around him, especially Emmett.Whizzco