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All the Right Places: personal narrative and sculptures by Paul Nixon

Scultpure by the author, Paul Nixon: life-sized firefighter and two children, he is holding a little boy, and a little girl is standing next to him, they are looking at a U.S. flag (which is not pictured), bronze sculpture.

Paul Nixon art, firefighter and children looking

at U.S. flag, bronze sculpture, Greensboro, N.C.

As an Irish immigrant, in 1985, aged twenty-nine, I left my homeland, Dublin, Ireland,

in search of the real me and my true worth. As a child, I was a withdrawn and shy kid.

I battled those issues and always felt that to find my true worth, I needed to lose myself completely. Leaving behind many old friends, a loving family, and a pleasant lifestyle,

I packed my bags and left home.


I landed alone in New York with the skill of an auto-mechanic, knowing that there was

a demand here for that kind of work. For a while, I walked a long, lonely road, and many times I came to regret the choice I made. The homesickness and loss of family were overwhelming, and the new lifestyle I had to adopt was so unfamiliar to me. However,

I also discovered people in New York were overly generous and compassionate. The people who came into my life accepted me as worthwhile and convinced me to stay.

I also felt God's guiding hand that constantly led me to all the right places. 


One year later, I partnered with a man by the name of Gabe from Haiti. We together took ownership of a Mobil gas and repair station in White Plains, NY. Our operation had been successful for 11 years when, one day, my future wife, Francesca, drove in with A/C issues. Long story short, after presenting Francesca with a bill for $600.00 and being aware I may never see her again, I stutteringly invited her out for a night of ballroom dancing. I'd been competing for a few years and felt I had something unique to offer this lady. 

I had grown very fond of her. She looked at me as though I had two heads and said,

"Like Fred Astaire?”

I replied, "I will teach you." Three months later, I proposed, and a year later, we were married. We moved south to Greensboro, North Carolina. This beautiful, caring lady

would become my guardian angel.


I was a fallen-away Catholic, and Francesca was an Episcopalian. She turned to me

one day and told me she was converting to Catholicism, and I needed to sponsor her

with weekly sessions at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church here in town for the following year. She reasoned that if we have a child, we both need to be on the same page for our child and our souls’ benefit. As it would happen, we were unable to conceive, but again,

I felt that guiding hand when, seven months after we applied, we were allowed to bring home a seven-month-old baby girl, Ana Claire.


This occurred twenty-four years ago at the same time as I discovered my artistic talents. Francesca’s conversion brought me back to the Catholic faith in a strong way. Sometimes I feel that she, as a convert, is more Catholic than I am. She also saw that

I was showing some artistic skills and pushed me beyond my limits to pursue my goal.

It seemed like penance in the beginning trying to fulfill her wishes but because of my

love for her, I didn't want to fail her. The power of love.           


Miracles began to occur, and all the right people came into my life when I took on my greatest risk next to leaving Ireland: working with an unfamiliar medium in creating a

public life-size bronze statue of a firefighter with two children, all looking at our American flag, a symbol of my new home. With the support of a loving wife, a renewed faith, and God's hand on my heart, my career in my new world changed me to what I once thought was impossible. With God nothing is impossible. I had found, through sacrifice and loss, the love of my life, my true worth in life, and a passion that has brought meaning and inspiration to me and to others.

Scripture reference: "For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

Sculpture by the author, Paul Nixon: Jesus restores the blind man's sight, a bust of both men, Jesus' hand reaching out and touching the man's eyes, cold cast bronze resin.

Paul Nixon art, Jesus restores the blind man's sight,

cold cast bronze resin


Sculpture by the author, Paul Nixon: Lamb of God sculpture, 4 ft by 4 ft, carved mahogany, the Lamb is lying down on top of a Bible and is holding a white banner.

Paul Nixon art, Lamb of God sculpture, 4 ft. by 4 ft., carved mahogany,

St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Paul Nixon, artist, shares how the United States changed his life in such

a rewarding way.

March 2024 issue

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