“What’s that car doing in Mr. Brodie’s driveway?” Avi asked himself. In the year since he had started visiting Mr. Brodie, Avi had never met another visitor while he was there.

Carefully he rested his bicycle against the gate and pulled out the newspaper. Then he jumped up the old worn steps of the porch, and rang the doorbell.

They would sit out on the porch and Mr. Brodie would tell Avi stories about a world he never could have imagined

He was surprised when a stranger opened the door.

“Wh-where’s Mr. Brodie?” Avi asked. “I’ve brought him his weekly paper.”

“Then you must be Avi,” the man smiled. “My uncle told me about you. My name is Reuven. I’m Mr. Brodie’s nephew. Please come in.”

Then Avi remembered hearing about Reuven, Mr. Brodie’s nephew who lived upstate. From time to time Mr. Brodie had mentioned that he wished his nephew didn’t live so far away, because it made it so difficult to see one another. Reuven and his wife were the only family Mr. Brodie had left.

“Have a seat.” Reuven motioned pleasantly to one of the familiar, high-backed kitchen chairs.

“My uncle is in the hospital - he’s had a heart attack. But don’t worry, it’s not too serious. He’s going to be all right. I just came over to get him some things.” Reuven’s face turned serious.

“I know how he loved this house, but he’s not going to be able to live here alone any more. Even though he’s quite an independent man, I think this experience has left him a bit frightened. We have plenty of room in our house, and he’s agreed to come and live with us.”

Reuven paused. Then he slid a sealed white envelope across the table. “My uncle insisted that I bring you the money for this week’s newspaper.”

Avi swallowed hard, and suddenly found that his voice seemed to be stuck in his throat. As they both stood up, Reuven reached out and shook Avi’s hand. “Thank you for taking an interest in my uncle,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much it meant to him.”

Reuven walked out to his car, leaving Avi on the porch. He walked slowly towards his bike, and looked up at the big, gray house.

When Avi had first begun to visit Mr. Brodie a little more than a year ago he was not sure what he would have to say to an 85 year-old man.
His mother has suggested he bring the Jewish paper each week and read an article or two. “You’ll see,” she said. “Elderly people have a lot of stories to share.” She was right. Mr. Brodie had tons of stories, and Avi looked forward to his weekly visit.

Mr. Brodie would invite him in and they would both have milk and cookies together at the small table in front of the kitchen window. As they sat there, Mr. Brodie would tell him what kind of bird was singing in the maple tree outside, and would imitate its song.

He always seemed to know when it was going to rain or snow and he always had an interesting story to tell about when he was growing up in Russia. In the warm weather, they would go out onto the old wooden porch, and sit down on the chairs and Mr. Brodie would tell Avi about a world he never could have imagined.

“I was skinny as a stick then,” he would laugh. “Not like now. My father took a tutor for my brother Shmuel, and my cousin Sholom. They were clever. They could learn. As for me, I could barely spell out the prayers. I had other friends, and I wanted to enjoy the modern life. But when my zeide Chaykel prayed, he used to cry that I would grow up a Jew.”

Mr. Brodie laughed when he said it, but his eyes turned red, and filled with tears.

With Pesach coming, Avi was full of questions about how they had done everything.

Mr Brodie had told him stories about how they baked matzos by the shoemaker, who had a secret oven that he had built in his basement. And he told Avi about the year when there was no food anywhere, and potatoes were selling for $50 a pound.

Or about the time that his father had run away over Pesach, because the man in charge of their apartment building had sent his old father to eat with them during Pesach. Everyone knew that he was a spy. “I didn’t see my father that year till after Pesach,” Mr. Brodie said.

Mr. Brodie had stories of how he had come to America, too, and how he struggled to find a job without having to work on Shabbos.

When Avi would come running home all out of breath and late for supper, his sister would tease him, “I’ll bet Mr. Brodie was telling you extra stories this evening! Tell us what they were.”

The sound of Reuven starting his car jolted Avi out of his thoughts. Quickly he wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket.

Avi handed him the paper and said, "Please give this to your uncle from me..."

“Wait!” Avi called as he ran up to the car. “Wait!”

Reuven Brodie lowered the window, and Avi handed him the newspaper. “I forgot to give you this,” Avi said. “You’re going to see your uncle now. Please give him this paper to read. I know he’ll like it.”

Reuven took the paper and smiled. “Yes, Avi,” he said. “I’ll give it to him.” He paused. “But I want to tell you a secret. My uncle must never know I told you.”

Avi listened silently.

“You see, my uncle’s vision has been failing for some time now. He can see shapes. He can make his way around the house, but even with special glasses, he can’t read. He hasn’t been able to read a book or a newspaper for the last few years.”

Avi was stunned. “You mean...”

“Yes,” he nodded. “My uncle is legally blind.”

“But the newspaper! He always said the best part of his week was when I brought him his paper.”

“Yes, I can believe that,” Reuven said, looking at Avi with the same soft, blue eyes his uncle had. “That’s like him. And, you know, when I would call to ask how he was doing, he’d always say, ‘Don’t worry about me. You don’t have to drive all the way in for my sake. I’m not lonely. I have a good friend Avi who comes to see me every week, rain or shine.’

“I took him at his word. I thought he was lucky to have a good friend like that.”

Avi stood there in shock, totally at a loss for words. After a while he smiled shyly and said, “I - I guess your uncle was right. We are kind of special friends.”

Then Avi reached into his pocket, and pulled out a pad and pencil, and handed it through the window of the car. “Mr. Brodie, which hospital is your uncle in? Could you write down the name and address please?”

“Are you planning on going to see him?”

“Of course. He was just in the middle of his last story! He said next time he’d tell me the rest. And also my mother told me that maybe he would come to us for Pesach, and anyway we have Matzah we set aside for him. He knows about it. I told him. You said he’d be better by then, right?”

Reuven smiled. “I see you really are special friends,” he said. “It makes me think that maybe we’ll have to reconsider whether or not he should move upstate and come to live with us after all. We’ll have to see.”