(KARE/CNN) – Age is no issue for a special friendship in Minnesota. A toddler and a veteran are best friends and those who know them say they learn a lot from each other.
Emmett Rychner is three going on four and for no particular reason, he is driving with his eyes closed, which would not appear to be going particularly well. Fortunately, Emmett has a mentor.
“I've got a bagger that fits on the back.”
Erling Kindem is 89-years-old going on 90.
“Watch this!” Emmett said.
“Ready, set, go!”
And this has been going on for nearly a year. Emmett’s parents had to laugh the first time they saw their preschooler racing a man who fought in the Second World War
“I told you he was fast,” Erling said.
“I'm super fast!” Emmett said. “You want to play croquet?
“Which stick are you going to have?”
The man they’ve waved to, but barely knew from the house next door.
“They’re together pretty much every day,” Emmett’s mom, Anika Rychner, said.
“Did you find a worm?” Erling said.
“Nope it's a bug,” Emmett said.
Emmett first crossed into the yard when he caught a glimpse of his favorite food.
“See these yellow flowers?” Emmett said. “These are going to be tomatoes.”
“Every time he saw me out there he would come running over, Erling said. “Erling, got any 'matoes?
“Can you throw a baseball at me?”
“Erling can't see so good.”
Every day is a new adventure.
“We saw Erling over working on this bike that looked like it was from the 60s,” Anika Rychner said. “And I thought there's no way he's going to get on this bike. And he did. It took him a couple times to get on his bike and I thought am I going to have to call 911 please don't fall over.”
Anika Rychner wondered if so warm a friendship would survive the winter.
“You want to play Star Wars with these,” Emmett said.
“One day I looked out the window and he was snow-blowing a path straight from his backdoor to our backdoor,” Anika Rychner said. “So they could visit.”
“Do you know who this is from?” Emmett said. “It's from Erling”
“He likes to show him things and draw him pictures and explain,” Anika Rychner said.
“So I can learn about how fishing works,” Emmett said.
“He's just taught him so much,” Ankia Rychner said.
Which is why those tears have been coming more often.
“We decided back a month ago to move,” Emmett’s dad, Ryan Rychner, said.
Ryan Rychner says their growing family simply needs more space. And change is coming for Erling too. He will be 90 soon.
“I love him,” Emmett said.
“It is the hardest part about moving,” Anika Rychner said.
“It's tough,” Erling said. “When you think about it.”
Erling’s wife is ill and just days ago, his kids finally convinced him it’s time to trade his house and yard for a senior apartment.
“Erling come over here!” Emmett said.
“I can hear you,” Erling said.
Until moving trucks roll, goodbyes will have to wait. This January December friendship still has a bittersweet July.
“Put a washer on,” Erling said. “Just do it by hand slow first.”
“There's no replacement for Erling,” Anika Rychner said. “We won't find a neighbor like him.”
“So you put the washer on first,” Emmett said.
“That's right.” Erling said.
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