Having a parent in the military can be a tough situation for young kids, especially when they become old enough to understand that there are risks of their father or mother never returning home.
For 5-year-old Brian Kelly, though, a kindhearted neighbor has made his father’s deployment to Syria a little bit easier to bear.
Kelly was photographed by his mother, Barbara, out in their front yard one day, getting some yard work done—but he wasn’t alone. Working by his side was the family’s neighbor, Dean Cravens, who had been putting the young boy to work by his side whenever he would show up at the door.
The Kellys had moved into their current home not long before Brian’s father, Dan, was deployed overseas.
This is our little neighbor. His dad is deployed in Syria and everyday he comes to the door asking to work with our dad. Appreciate today💓 pic.twitter.com/RdAHwh2Thm
— Molly Cravens (@mctheflyestg) June 18, 2017
Before heading to Syria, Dan had taken a heartwarming photo with Brian, sitting on the family’s ride-on lawnmower wearing a John Deere shirt. Brian loves working outside, and it had been a form of bonding for the father-and-son duo.
When his father left, it hit Brian hard. But one day, he had an idea—and marching across the street, he rang Cravens’s doorbell and asked if the older man could help him.
“They bought the house, and they’re flipping it and fixing it up, so they’re always doing yard work, and he loves to do yard work,” Cravens said of Brian, via ABC News.
“When he sees me with my trimmers, he’d always come over and talk to me about it. He’s a hard worker. When his dad left, he’d have more time on his hands, and he’d come over and ring the doorbell. He’d ask if I could come out and play. Originally he’d ask to do more yard work, and I thought, ‘Well, let’s do other things too,’ so we play catch, we’ll be shooting the ball, working on my golf swing.”
The pair have become close friends during Kelly’s deployment, much to the joy of Brian’s mother.
The friendship obviously doesn’t take the place of Brian’s dad, but it serves as a worthy example of mentorship and support for the military families and the sacrifices they make. The Kellys and the Cravens are now as close as neighbors can be, and Brian now has someone to keep him occupied while his father is off defending the nation.
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