by Barbara Guarino Kruk

We often associate bravery with strong, powerful, adult men and woman, adults who have demonstrated courage in the face of fear, even in death. The universal image of a soldier, police officer, or firefighter, immediately come to mind when we think of courage.
Would you ever symbolize courage with the image of a two-year-old child? Unlikely. Yet, Joey Diorio was a warrior. He was a brave, courageous, little man, who every day faced death with the heart of a lion. He was in pain, yet this little soldier fought to bring hope and joy to those who loved him. It was not easy on him, nor was it easy for his devoted family.
Joey was born a healthy, happy, sturdy baby. He was a good infant and was developing at the normal pace for a child his age. Then, one day, that all changed. Suddenly, inexplicably, the world of Joey Diorio and his family was thrust into a black hole; Joey was diagnosed with cancer. He was strong, perhaps there would be a cure. Why would there not be a cure, after all he is so young, so pure. His tiny body was poked, prodded, pricked, and cut, in the relentless hope that he would be healed. They prayed for God to lay his healing hand upon his innocent head.
He was a typical two year old who loved to watch his favorite television shows like Thomas and Friends and Paw Patrol. Sadly, instead of enjoying these shows from the comfort of his family living room, little Joey watched from his hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and monitors. His playroom was his hospital room where he drove his trains on fanciful adventures.
He was as tough as they come. His Mom, Jaymie, showed me a picture of him with his leg crossed over the other and the most endearing smile on his handsome face. My heart melted. As parents and grandparents, we pray that our children will stay healthy, untouched by any harm.
Joey’s love was infectious. Everyone who treated him soon grew to love him. That engaging smile and precocious laugh made you want to hug him. Once you realized what this child had endured, you could not help but marvel at his endurance and fortitude. He would ask his Mom to pick at the encrusted scab that formed on his beautiful mouth. It hurt. “Pick, pick off.” He would cry.
His courage inspired his family to face every day. His bravery held them up when all hope was gone. Joey faced death several times, but each time he came back. For his loving parents, his brother and sister, his passing will change their lives forever. It is amazing how one little boy could capture and hold so many people. In his short and difficult life, he touched countless people. He fought the fight with a resilience that most adults could not muster.
I know this family, and have been honored to serve them. They have suffered every day since Joey was first diagnosed with this insidious disease. They have prayed, cursed, cried, and fought for their little boy. Parents, Jaymie and Robert stood vigil at his bedside. Big sister Baleigh and big brother Robert, Jr. have faced the pain of their brother and the toll it has taken on their Mom and Dad. The pain upon Grandma’s, and Grandpa’s, watching with broken hearts the suffering of their children and grandchildren. Sickness, especially of a child, affects every family member.
While the pain of his passing is so deep that it makes the simple act of breathing difficult, the thought that Baby Joey is free is uplifting. He can take his train on the most outrageous journeys. He can leap from tall buildings and he can now be the Guardian Angel for Baleigh and Robert, Jr. He can jump and run; no longer held prisoner shackled to his machines.
Joseph James Diorio, an Angel, a hero, is free at last! God bless you Joey, you have showen us all how to live when death is your companion.
Joseph James Diorio, 2 years old, fought a hard war against his illness, but was called to Heaven on April 16, 2016 at Stony Brook University Hospital. Baby Joey, as he was affectionately called, was a happy baby. He loved to watch his favorite television shows like Thomas and Friends, Paw Patrol, and Team Umizoomi. He enjoyed playing with his trains. Even though this brave little man was in pain, he always tried to make people happy. He was always smiling and laughing. His loving parents, Robert and Jaymie O’Brien survive Joey. He was the brother of Baleigh and Robert, Jr. and cherished grandson of James and Rosemarie O’Brien, and Donna and Frank Diorio. Joseph was named after his beloved great-grandfather Joseph Liselli who is still living. He was the beloved nephew of Dylan O’Brien. Family and friends were welcomed at Roma Funeral Home in Shirley. Wake prayers were conducted and a Mass was offered at St. Jude’s RC Church in Mastic Beach. Interment was held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

Barbara Lynn Hodder, age 61, of North Shirley, lost her valiant battle with her illness and died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on April 14, 2016 at the Good Shepherd Hospice Care in Port Jefferson. She was born in Astoria, New York and was a school bus driver for East End Bus Company. Barbara, the loving mother of nine, and grandmother of thirty-one, and great-grandmother of nine, enjoyed camping, crocheting, and collecting salt and pepper shakers from around the country. Her favorite color was red, she loved Betty Boop, the music of the 50s and 60s and Kenny Rogers. She was a shopaholic and loved to go to Dollar Tree. No matter how many she was feeding, she would always say: There is always room for one more. She was the loving wife for the past eight years to Patrick Capasso. She was the beloved mother to Sandi (Eric) Marcoccio, Brian (Kelly) Hodder, Tonya (Cosmo) Pirrone, Charlene(George) Astacio, Melissa (Steve) Jeffrey, Kevin Hodder and Priscilla, Billy Wood, BarbaraJene Hodder, Eugene Hodder, Jr., Janeen (Michael) Roos, and Michelle Capasso, thirty-one grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. She was the loving sister to Raymond Bruno, Richard Carey, and Maryann Lissey. Family and friends were received at Roma Funeral Home in Shirley. A Mass was offered at St. John’s RC Church in Center Moriches and cremation took place at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches.

Salvatore Sgroi, age 94, on May 7, 1921 to April 11, 2016. It’s a wonderful world were the words he lived by. Up until his last hour, I asked him, “Dad, is it still a wonderful world?” He nodded yes! Born in Carini, he was the oldest of six children. As a young man, he studied music in a conservatory in Carini. He learned to play clarinet and conduct music. Music remained a constant theme that would follow him throughout his life. Up until his final hours, music was his love and comfort. He was in WWII stationed in Africa. He moved to America in 1953 at the age of 32 and opened a custom woodworking factory with his father and brother Giamo and brother-in-law Gaspare. Salvatore Sgroi was known for his music, woodworking, food, nature and let’s face it, his love for woman. He always appreciated the beauty of a woman! He especially loved politics; if you loved to talk politics, he loved you the most! He was admired for his knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence, his wit, and sense of humor, his non-urgent ways, and his slow and steady pace. He was not the kind of Catholic who attended church frequently, however, he was a practicing Catholic in that he trusted in the Lord. He trusted in the Lords plan for him, which is why he was never anxious or worried. The interruptions and the challenges never threw his days off because he trusted that they were God’s will. Salvatore loved, and was loved! He was lucky to have a devoted wife and caring family. He is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Venerina Sgroi. Their love was like an opera, he was the tenor and she was the dramatic soprano. They brought three beautiful children into this world; Adeline (Benny) Rizzitello, Philip (Melissa) Sgroi, Annamaria (Amir) Weiss. He was the proud and beloved grandfather to his eight grandchildren, Benjamin, Salvatore, Grace, Isabel, Melina, Sophia, Lia, and Lydia He was the devoted brother of Giacomo Sgroi and Mario Sgroi and uncle to more than forty loving nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents Maria Nunzia and Fidele Sgroi, three loving sisters, Maria, Josephine, and Ninfa. To everyone: the family, neighbors, and nurses, who loved my dad like their own, “This is not goodbye Dad. We will see you later. Go slow, don’t rush, heaven is waiting for you.” Family and friends came to say farewell to this much loved man at Roma Funeral Home in Shirley where Fr. Greg Yacyshyn of St. Jude’s RC Church conducted prayer services. Interment took place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

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