|They called him Pete the Painter. Pete Carroll was really a firefighter, but he painted apartments to make ends meet. He walked into ToniAnn's life eight years ago and laid two coats of beige paint.|
He had 19 years in the Fire Department. One more, and they were off to retire in California. They depended on each other, but last January, Ms. Carroll came to depend on him in very profound ways. She fell ill with a neurological disorder with no cure. It is a rapid, ravaging affliction that attacks the soft tissues.
Mr. Carroll, 42, started to cook for his wife. He carried her to bed. Sometimes he washed her back. This summer, on the hottest day of the year, he came home to Staten Island from the Squad 1 firehouse in Brooklyn to see her in the backyard, frozen in a chair in the blazing sun. He saw that and wept. "I had a beautiful fireman to rescue me," Ms. Carroll said. "Now I don't want to move at all."
In a contorted way, Mr. Carroll's wife is one of the lucky survivors. She has his ashes and his wedding band.