Fred Rogers was an American television presenter, most famous perhaps for presenting, between 1968 and 2001, a show for preschool children called Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
The article is about Fred Rogers's life and career and also about the journalist's relationship with Fred Rogers. The article is written in a rather tender, fond tone, and the journalist, Tom Junod, refers to Fred Rogers affectionately as "Mister Rogers." During the article, Tom Junod describes various moments from Fred Rogers's life, most of which demonstrate his kindness and compassion toward children. There is the moment, for example, when Fred Rogers asked a boy with cerebral palsy to pray for him, and there is the moment when Fred Rogers spoke kindly to a boy with a "death ray" sword who felt weak on the inside.
During the article, Tom Junod also draws directly from several interviews he has conducted with Fred Rogers, and, during one of these interviews, he mentions a stuffed animal toy that he had as a child. The toy was called "Old Rabbit." When Tom was a boy he threw this rabbit out of a car window, and from that moment on he felt something missing in his life and would intermittently pray for the return of that something. At the end of the article, Fred Rogers invites Tom to pray with him. Tom says that during the prayer, he felt his heart turn, metaphorically, from "a spike" to "an umbrella." In other words, during this prayer, Tom felt his heart open, as it had never opened since that day when he threw "Old Rabbit" out of the car window. "Old Rabbit" is thus significant because it represents an absence and a pain in Tom's life that Fred Rogers helped him to heal.