If we're lucky, we might have a friendship that spans a generation. And so it was with 6-year-old Emmett Rychner and his friend, 91-year-old World War II veteran Erling Kindem. Here they are racing tractors in the backyardâjust a typical thing guys do when they're hanging out, right?
Emmett grew up next to Kindem, but the little guy's family moved to a neighboring Minnesota town a couple of years ago. The unlikely pals stayed in touch, despite the distance. The two families had lived next door toÂ one another for a decade or so, but never really exchanged more than a casual helloâuntil Emmett was born. When the little boy was 2, he ventured over to Kindem's backyard, and found the man gardening. Then Emmett spotted KindemÂ working outside on a new sidewalk, and went out to help with his toy shovel and wheelbarrow (which is what guys do for each other) and that was itâthey became BFFs.
âHe would also go knock on Erling's door and ask if Erling could play,â Emmett's mother, Anika Rychner, toldÂ TODAY.
Sadly, Kindem passed away on Oct. 29.
Emmett, who drew B-24 bomber plane photos for his older buddy, was able to see Kindem for a final goodbye at his nursing home just three days before he passed.
âAfter we told Emmett that Erling had passed away, he was very quiet for a while," Rychner said. "The first thing he said was, âSo we'll just have to wait a really long time. I know we'll see him again in heaven.'â