My Uncle Paul

I am so saddened by the loss of my Uncle Paul, he is how I have always envisioned someone who you would call “larger than life” and it’s an unbelievable loss.

Growing up with my Mom’s family was such an experience, that it’s hard to really sum up without rambling – but I will try.  My Mom has three brothers that have left such different impressions on me.  My uncle Pete was the incredible athlete, and I always admired his accomplishments,  and I loved hearing stories from the family about how talented he was.  One of my favorite memories is when I had the opportunity to play a little ball back in high school in front of him – trying to so hard to show him what I had.  Uncle Nicky was just a few years older than me, and he was that big brother that I didn’t have.  He was always so cool, and outgoing and fun to be around. I suspect most people have family like Pete & Nicky.

But Paul was something different.  During most of my youth Paul was having all kinds of adventures.  He was the ultra-talented musician that we all bragged about.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people or shown them on the internet who he was and what he did.  Paul made a bunch of stops to our home town in Ridgewood, and every time he was there he left an impression. 

My Mom’s family was around often when I was younger.  Whether it was Thanksgiving when I would trek down to South Jersey to bring my Aunts up, or other times when my uncles were in town – the family dynamic was always crazy.  Lots of people talking loud, sharing stories, and having fun.  But somehow when you added Paul into the mix it was different.  Paul was always so animated.  What I’ll remember most is watching my Uncle Nicky interact with Paul.  When Paul was around, I didn’t see Nicky as that older brother figure – I saw him as the little brother with his big brother.  Paul elicited that look on their faces where people couldn’t wait to see what he was going to say next – and usually what resulted was that big, uncompromised Lagos laugh from everyone else in the room while Paul smirked.  Those visions are Paul’s real legacy for me, as a kid looking to learn more about his Mom’s family.

The predominant memory of Paul for me was when he stayed with us for a while right after I graduated from college.  That is when I got to spend the most time with him.  He told stories, and we got to speak as adults for the first time.  I was easily the most reserved of my family, so speaking to Paul was such a treat.  His experiences and perspectives were so dramatically different from mine, and it was good to finally connect that way. 

I’ll end with an observation that I hope everyone else has noticed as well:  Paul never just stood there for a picture.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing all the shots that people, especially Michelle, has posted.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who so consistently expressed himself in pictures.  I can’t help smiling whenever I see his facial expressions in these pictures.  And every time, my mind goes back to those visions in my head of seeing Paul holding court in my hose in Ridgewood whether he was telling stories, pontificating about how things “really are” or strutting around like Dr. Detroit and oozing way too much cool than one person should ever have.  And I’ll always be the conservative jock-kid that admired him for being more open than I could ever dream to be.

I’ll miss my uncle for what he was, I’ll mourn for the joy he won’t be able to give my kids as they come into consciousness, but most of all I’ll relish in what I’ll always have – the memories.

Your loving and admiring nephew – Craig.

495 views and 3 responses

  • Nov 12 2009, 11:04 PM
    randulo responded:
    Hi Craig,

    What a beautifully-written, accurate and heartfelt remembrance of your Uncle Paul. It's certain he was larger-than-life. The way he held himself, the way he moved, all the details are there, too. As I told Anne, I met Paul's mom and Carmen once, but I don't think I've ever seen any of the rest of the family. I'm so pleased this site has assembled such great comments.

  • Nov 13 2009, 12:38 AM
    Michelle Lagos responded:
    Craig,
    What a beautiful rememberance...He did do the Dr. Detroit strut well, didn't he?! And you're right, each picture does have so much expression... Lovely... ;-> It's been many years, cousin, but I'm wishing you and your family many thoughts and hugs from Portland.~Michelle Lagos
  • Nov 13 2009, 1:15 PM
    Art Resnick responded:
    Again, tears to my eyes