Adorable Friendship Between a 3-Year-Old and His 89-Year-Old Pal Is Too Cute for Words
byKaitlin StanfordJul 11, 2014
For nearly a decade, the Rychner family of Farmington, Minn., didn't know much about their elderly neighbor, Erling Kindem. The World War II vet was nice, but quiet, and could often be seen tending to his yard or his beloved garden out back.
But all that changed one day last year, when their then-2-year-old son Emmett wandered into Erling's yard and struck up a conversation. Little did they know then that it would bring the Rychner's and the old man next door closer than they ever could have imagined.
As time wore on, little Emmett would stop by more often, chatting with the old man about his garden, or whatever came to mind. "Erling, got any 'matoes?" the old man says the little guy would often ask. "They kind of bonded over the tomatoes in his garden," Anika Rychner told KARE 11 News of her son and his 89-year-old friend.
Soon their unlikely yet adorable friendship would take them beyond just Erling's back yard. Once Emmett started riding his tricycle around, Erling decided to fix up an old bike he had in the garage. The clunky old thing probably dated back to the 1960s, Emmett's mom laughingly says now, admitting that she worried the old man would fall off and get hurt. But Erling did just fine, and now regularly rides beside Emmett.
Often, the two friends sit in the driveway working on Erling's bike together. As the old man teaches the young boy about bolts and wrenches, showing him how everything works together, the 3-year-old listens alongs carefully.
Other times, they race their matching John Deere tractors through the yard, side-by-side. (Emmett's is a Power Wheels version, of course.)
Or help each other out, doing yard work.
As you can see, it's all rather adorable — which is why Emmett's parents are so sad that this summer will be the last the two can spend together as everyday pals. The Rychner's are planning to expand their family to more kids, and had to make the difficult decision recently to move into a bigger home. Meanwhile, Erling's children have convinced him it's time to move into a senior living facility, since keeping up with his own home is becoming too much for him.
But the day Anika walked next door to tell Emmett about the "For Sale" sign that would be going up in their yard was not an easy one.
"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 later said.
Still, the Rychner's insist that they'll do everything in their power to make sure the friendship endures.
"Erling grew up in Northfield and he goes there every week to meet up with other World War II veterans," Anika 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."
And they better — because Emmett is pretty attached to his buddy Erling. "I love him," he adorably tells ABC News in the video below.
If you just cannot handle the cuteness of these two, ABC News has followed up with a piece chronicling Erling's favorite memories of the two friends together. It is the best.