“His patience is unbelievable:” World War II veteran forms unlikely friendship with a preschooler

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MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL — They are 86 years apart in age — but they’re best friends! Meet Erling Kindem and Emmett Rychner. Erling is 89 years old, and Emmett is three years old.

erling and emmettAccording to KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul, little Emmett’s parents, Bryan and Anika Rychner had little interaction with the elderly man who lives next door — a World War II veteran who flew combat missions in Europe.

That all changed last year, when three-year-old Emmett paid Erling a visit — and the two bonded over tomatoes.


Their friendship grew over the next few months as they spent time racing lawn mowers, playing croquet and fixing bicycles.

Emmett’s mother says she wondered whether their friendship would survive the harsh, Minnesota winter.

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

These two love spending time together — but soon, things will change for both of them — something they’re trying not to think about right now.

CLICK HERE for more on this story via KARE11.com.


  • stacey

    With all the lawn mowing accidents happening it is sad to see this picture. Lawn mowers ate not toys!!

    • Nicole

      Really…..of all the things this story stands for and all you can do is focus on the dangerousness of lawn mowers???!!! You clearly have no compassion!

    • BRENDA B.

      I 100% agree with you! Lawnmowers are NOT toys! Thousands of lawnmower accidents EVERY year. These parent need to google Child / lawnmower accidents Horrific injuries!!

    • Jen

      The adult is on the real lawn mower and the mover it’s not even on. He’s just driving it like a car. SEe the real reason for this story.

  • Jen

    The child is not on the real lawnmower & they aren’t racing while the mower is on. Good grief, your missing the point of the story.

  • Lana London

    Beautiful story..brought tears to my eyes..i wish both families the best of luck and i hope that Earling and Emmett can continue their beautiful friendship although they are moving! God Bless…

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