WASHINGTON –A tomato plant helped an unlikely friendship bloom between a 3-year-old and an 89-year-old World War II veteran.
Erling Kindem lived next door to the the Rychner family in Farmington, Minnesota, and Kindem’s tomato plants caught the eye of then-2-year-old Emmet Rychner.
“They kind of bonded over the tomatoes in his garden,” Emmett’s mother Anika Rychner said to KARE-TV, “because Emmett loves tomatoes.”
Emmett would run over to Kindem’s nearby residence and check on his “‘matoes.” Kindem, a World War II veteran who flew combat missions in Europe, lives with his wife and loves the added company of the boy, KARE-TV reports.
The two spent more and more time together racing lawn mowers, playing croquet and riding bicycles.
Their friendship strengthened, until a “for sale” sign turned into a “sold” sign.
The Rychners, in need of a larger house for a growing family, put the house on the market and it was sold in a few days.
Anika told KARE-TV that the timing was right, but she knew from the start, the hardest part would be leaving Kindem.
The nearing 90-year-old man has news of his own. With an ailing wife, he decided it was time to leave his home and move with his wife into a senior apartment.
“It’s tough,” Kindem told KARE-TV about moving away from his younger buddy.
But for now, the two will play and focus on spending time together.