Boy Says Final Goodbye To His 91-Year-Old Best Friend Who Lived Next Door

November 4, 2016

For ten years, the Rychner family and Erling Kindem lived next to each other in a Minneapolis suburb, but didn't have much of a relationship beyond saying hello. That changed after Emmett came along.

"He was about 2 when this all started. He would start venturing over to Erling's backyard when he was out in his garden with his tomatoes," Emmett's mother Anika Rychner told Today.

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Erling, a World War II veteran, instantly bonded with little Emmett. From then on, Emmett went outside anytime he spotted his buddy.

He would also go knock on Erling's door and ask if Erling could play," Anika said.

Two years ago, Emmett's family moved away to the countryside. A month later, Erling and his wife moved to a senior apartment. But the two friends continued to visit each other regularly:

This past spring, Erling moved into an assisted living home. His heart condition began to worsen and last month, he moved into a nursing home, where he received hospice care.

Emmett saw his friend the day after he moved in, and again last week. That was when Emmett read his friend the Lord's prayer, and Erling encouraged his buddy to listen to his parents.

"It felt like a goodbye," Rychner said.

Erling passed away three days later.

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Anika says Emmett has been more quiet than usual, but appears to have absorbed the news, in part because she had been preparing him.

"We all have to experience death at some point in our life of a loved one. That's an important part of growing up. You can't avoid it," she said.

"He has strong faith that he will see him again."

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