No, it was Paula, the mother of one of Reeve’s classmates, who took him to see a Santa Fe Opera youth night performance of “The Marriage of Figaro.”
If it had been up to me, Reeve would never have seen an opera. I was not an opera-goer. I’ve been many times in the years since, but that’s because he got me interested, not the other way around. I’m grateful to Paula for sharing something with Reeve that I would not have thought to.
It takes a village to raise a child—that old African proverb made popular by Hillary Clinton in the 1990s. It may be overused, but there’s still substance there. Paula was one of those people in Reeve’s village. And there have been many, many more:
His best friend’s aunt who taught him to swim
Three adult friends who gave him their old guitars, one who taught him to play
My sister, who early on taught him the art of conversation: “I’ll ask you a question, and you answer; then you ask me a question, and I answer; then I ask you a question. . . Got it?”
A little less socially valuable but no less fun for Reeve, my brother, who put Reeve to bed one night and instead of reading a bedtime story, told him a bunch of “Yo Mama” jokes
The preschool teacher who gave him his very own child-size pitcher and taught him to pour his own water or juice or milk from it
Austin’s mom, Barb, who, when Reeve was too fearful to sleep during his very first sleepover, brought in a sleeping bag and lay down on the floor next to him til he fell asleep
The 6th-grade teacher who invited him to synagogue; the poet who shared what she knew about Buddhism
The Shakespeare play-reading group of adults who welcomed the 13-year-old Reeve with love and respect and supported his growth and learning over the years
The voice teacher who told him he could sing
I could go on and on. So many villagers. So much love. All my gratitude.
Photo: Reeve as Figaro in New Mexico State’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro” last weekend.