Preschooler says goodbye to his best friend, a 91-year-old World War II Veteran

We’ve all heard about friendships that last generations. Sometimes people form friendships that cross generations. Case in point – Emmett Rychner and Erling Kindem.

Emmett was just two-years-old when he took a particular shine to his family’s neighbor, eighty-seven-year-old Erling. The intrepid toddler strolled over to Erling’s yard one day while the World War II vet was working in his garden, and the friendship grew from there. Anytime Emmett would see Erling outside, he would head over to see how his friend was doing. Once, Emmett saw Erling pouring dirt around his new sidewalk, and decided he would help. So he took his toy shovel and wheelbarrow over and got to work alongside his pal.

The friendship between the two continued to grow over the next four years. Emmett and Erling would play croquet, garden, ride bicycles, and have lawnmower races (Emmett on his toy electric mower). Emmett would make presents for Erling, drawing pictures of B-24 bomber planes for his buddy, who served as a radio operator and gunner.

Related: Watch Vietnam Veteran Friends Reunite After 46 Years

About two years ago, Emmett’s family moved to the countryside, and shortly thereafter Erling moved with his wife to a senior apartment. But this change in proximity didn’t affect the two’s friendship; Emmett and Erling continued to have regular visits with one another.

This past spring, Erling made another move – into an assisted living facility and then into a nursing home, where he began receiving hospice care. The ninety-one-year-old got a visit from his six-year-old friend the day after he moved in, and again two weeks ago. On the last visit, the declining Erling read Emmett the Lord’s Prayer and encouraged him to listen to his parents. Erling passed away three days later.

While this visit seemed to be a final goodbye, Emmett didn’t see it that way. When the six-year-old found out that his friend had passed away, he said, “So we’ll just have to wait a really long time. I know we’ll see him again in heaven.”

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