Dr. John Buccellato has spent a lifetime helping people as an emergency room physician and, after his retirement, working for City MD Urgent Care Centers.

He was just days away from a planned trip to his winter home in Naples, Florida, when he started feeling the symptoms of coronavirus. He had met with countless patients with those symptoms in March as the virus started spreading throughout the city. Despite taking every precaution, he wound up at Mount Sinai Hospital himself.

Soon, he would be joined on the same floor by his mother Anna, 98, who had also tested positive for COVID-19. The two suffered from many of the same symptoms of the virus. 

Anna Messina, Buccellato's mother, was born in Naples, Italy in 1922, and later immigrated to America, the youngest of 12 siblings. Anna would marry Lawrence Buccellato, a carpenter, and raise four children in a house on East 15th Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn. A fifth child, Joseph, died during childbirth.

Anna was a stay-at-home mother who pushed her children towards education, including John, who, inspired by his godfather Dr. John Messina, would go onto medical school and become a doctor as well.

Anna and Lawrence were married for more than 75 years and would experience the joy of four grandchildren. They were together until his death four years ago at the age of 94. He had both Parkinson's Disease and dementia, and Anna was his caregiver until the end.

Buccellato says he was able to see his mother during the stay at Mount Sinai, making for some rare moments as the two battled this deadly virus. He is continuing to recover from the virus himself, having been back to Mount Sinai again with complications. Ultimately, though, it would be too much for Anna, who passed away early Friday. Buccellato called her a beloved mother, grandmother and aunt, the matriarch of a large Italian-American family. 

Anna will be laid to rest at St. John’s Cemetery in Queens after this valiant fight. Buccellato asked that amid all of this, his mother be remembered as the great woman she was.