Joe Rossetti has huge hands, hands that have built houses, run a business and, for the past 13 years, taken notes for his handicapped son so that he might graduate from college.
Rossetti laughs when you mention his hands. In the month since his son's graduation from Providence College, the 62-year-old has been working on long-neglected projects around the house. "I've got a blister," he says with amazement. "I've never had such soft hands before."Rossetti calls his son Carl his "right-hand man," but the truth is, that's what Carl could call his father.
Seventeen years ago, when Carl was 15, his neck was broken in a dirt bike accident.
After five months in a semi-coma, Carl regained consciousness and was allowed to return home. Intensive therapy helped him regain movement on his left side, and his father became his second hand.
"I've never seen such devotion in a mother and father in my life," said Shirley Kervick, a dance therapist who helped Carl regain his ability to walk.
Carl finished high school with the help of teachers and fellow students, Rossetti, whose 1951 Providence College class ring is worn smooth from years of hard work, went back to school with Carl in 1975.
"Carl wanted that degree, and I said, `Well, let's go for it," Rossetti said. "I did it like any parent would do it. Until you're a parent you don't realize what your parents did for you."
Rossetti makes it clear he wasn't the only one who has helped Carl.
"Behind the battles was my wife. Ann had to be very patient for the past 17 years," Rossetti said.
When Carl was injured, Rossetti gave up his construction business and went into real estate. "I just stopped right then and there," he said. "I had to let everything go."
"As a parent, you love your children; nothing is a sacrifice if you love them," he said.