Tina Dowdall will tell you the only thing that is truly important in life is family.
The newest centenarian at Wesley House Aged Care has dedicated her 100 years to looking after the people she loves.
“Having a good family – that’s all that matters,” Tina says.
“My husband was a perfect man and we never had any trouble whatsoever with our kids.
“If we could help them, we would help them and that was it.”
Tina was born into the Capasso family in Naples, Italy, on 2nd August 1918.
She was one of six children and remained in Naples until 1946, when she met a dashing Englishman, Ronald, who was stationed in Italy as part of the British Army.
Within months, the pair got married and they moved to England, where they went on to have their first son, Richard.
At age 3, Richard tragically died of leukaemia and Tina still gets visibly upset speaking about her “darling angel”. A smiling photo of the curly-haired toddler now looks down over her bed.
Three weeks after Richard’s death, Tina gave birth to her son, Peter, and two years later her daughter Yvonne was born.
In 1960, the family moved to Australia and settled in Elizabeth, where Tina and Ronald lived in the same house for more than 40 years.
During that time, Tina was a dedicated mother who worked during school hours at John Martin’s department store because she “always wanted to be able to take the children to school and be home when they came back”.
She recalls many happy years enjoying her family, friends and spending time in her garden.
She is incredibly talented at arts and crafts and has some of the ceramic ornaments, crocheted toys (pictured right) and knitted blankets she has created on display in her room.
She has also enjoyed travelling over the years – in particular to visit her children who moved to America and England, as well as her remaining family in Italy.
Those happy years with Ronald came to an end in 2006, when he passed away.
It was an incredibly difficult time for Tina and she still misses him fiercely.
It was also a time in which all the love and support she had given her family over the years came back full circle.
“My son Peter had lived in America for 30 years and when my husband died, he promised his father he would look after me,” Tina says.
“Three or four months after Ronald passed, Peter and his wife Gill sold everything and came back to live in Australia.
“He lives five minutes away and he comes to visit me every evening. He is a gorgeous boy.”
Tina’s daughter, Yvonne, lives in England but every Christmas flies back to Adelaide to spend it with her mum.
She also flew back in August for her centenary birthday celebration, which Tina says was an incredible occasion.
About 70 family members and friends gathered to celebrate with a party in Gawler full of good food, laughter and love – just how Tina likes it.
“I was so surprised to see everyone,” she says.
“It was simply wonderful.”