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Meet the toddler, WWII vet who are best buddies

Meet the toddler, WWII vet who are best buddies

By Julianne Cassidy. CREATED Jul 7, 2014

Do you know your next door neighbor?

Besides an occasional kind "hello," Bryan and Anika Rychner did not know Erling Kindem, the World War II veteran who lives next door to their Farmington, Minnesota, home. However, their toddler Emmett did.

"They kind of bonded over the tomatoes in his garden," Ankia shares with Kare 11, "because Emmett loves tomatoes." Or, as Emmett says, "'matoes."

Whether racing lawn mowers—Erling's real John Deere garden tractor and Emmett's battery operated toy model—or playing croquet after Erling surprised Emmett with a set, the unlikely duo have found a once-in-a-lifetime friendship.

"His patience is unbelievable," Bryan Rychner, Emmett's dad, tells Kare 11 of Erling. "He sees Emmett outside playing, he'll find a reason to go outside."

Erling even used a snow blower to clear a path between their homes during the winter.

Brought together by 'matoes, the 3-year-old and 89-year-old have been inseparable. Until now.

The Rychners are moving to a larger home, and with Erling's 90th birthday looming, his children have convinced him to move to a senior apartment with his ailing wife.

With his voice cracking, Erling shares with Kare 11, "It's tough." 

Julianne Cassidy

Julianne Cassidy

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A city girl gone country, Julianne Cassidy is a newly Nashville-based entertainment journalist from Philadelphia.