After painful loss, 82-year-old widow ‘adopted’ by family of 7 next door says they feel like home

Last year, Sharaine Caraballo and her husband, Wilson, bought their first home in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and moved their five children from Texas to the small city, that has a population of less than 75,000.

Not sure what to expect of the new neighborhood Sharaine, 32, said her and Wilson, 42, feared how their active, oftentimes noisy children would be received.

“‘What if our neighbors don’t like us?’ What if, because we have a lot of kids, they make a lot of noise and we come from a big family, what if there’s any conflict with the neighbors?” Sharaine said.

Her concerns were quickly eased by a knock on the door.

Waiting on the other side was Paul Callahan, an 82-year-old handyman, who carrying a ladder, offered to help the family fix things around their newly purchased home.

“One of my biggest fears was meeting our new neighbors. I was wondering who they were going to be and what they were going to be like,” Sharaine said. “When Paul welcomed us into the neighborhood I knew I had made the right choice.”

Shortly after meeting the couple learned Paul had recently become widowed, his wife dying only six months before the Caraballos arrived.

Paul, who loves the energy of the children and the big family, said: “It reminds me of when we, my wife and I, first started. There’s just something about this family that makes me feel at home.”

Touched by his goodwill, Paul was “adopted” by the Caraballos, becoming “Uncle Paul” to the parents and a grandad to the five children, who love the man to pieces.

“He was coming over with tools. He’d bring screwdrivers and teach Wilson how to fix up the garage, and Wilson followed all his advice.” Sharaine said, adding that Paul is no longer just a neighbor. The man, who’s “got stories for days,” is part of the family and is invited to every family dinner, cookout and holiday gathering.

“The kids run up to him like that’s their grandfather. Paul is definitely a family member. He’s no longer considered a neighbor,” Sharaine said of the man, who spends nearly every day with the family.

In March, 2023, Sharaine posted a heartwarming video on Facebook, boasting about Paul on a “Random neighbor appreciation post.”

Attaching an emotional video of Callahan with her children, Sharaine writes, “My family & I purchased our home last February. My biggest fear was not knowing how [our] neighbors are (I watch a lot of “neighbor war” shows). God blessed my family with having a neighbor like Paul. He comes over and hangs out with our family. [Educates] my husband on different tools. Leaves donuts every Saturday for the kids.” She continued, “Bought the kids bags full of brand new socks, gloves, & hats for the winter. Comes to the cookouts in the summer & just brings overall joy to our family. My family and I adopted him as “uncle Paul.” There are definitely good neighbors out here but we got the best one.”

Netizens jumped in with comments and praised the Carraballos and Paul for developing such a deep, mutually beneficial connection. “My heart. I’m crying at each video. They don’t make people like him anymore and I’m so glad your babies get to experience him and that he has y’all to keep him young, happy, and alive. I bet he lives for every moment with y’all. I wish my grandma had neighbors like y’all.”

A second writes, “I hope this man lives to see so many more years I don’t even know him & love his spirit,” while a third shares, “I BET y’all are the highlight of his life! I just keep crying!! So so beautiful.”

One notices Paul pulling out his teeth and showing the kids: “Is that him taking his teeth out? As a kid I had an ‘uncle’ who did that and I thought it was the best thing ever! Your family and Paul are beautiful”

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