It's been a roller coaster of a year for Horsham's Maria Sordello and her tight-knit family.
Celebrations for her 90th birthday had to be scaled back due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and planned visits by daughter Suzie Sordello King, who lives in New Zealand, have been put on hold until borders are unlocked.
The Sordello matriarch, who has lived in Horsham for 66 years, is the last survivor of her generation in the family.
It's a difficult time for the family. She was diagnosed with cancer and has undergone treatment, a beloved daughter-in-law died suddenly and multiple lockdowns had lead to long separations.
Mrs Sordello King said it had been tough being in New Zealand and unable to get home, especially for her mum's milestone birthday on May 29.
"That was super sad," she said.
"I was due to fly in on May 22 and we were having a family get together, but unfortunately .... [it was not just] COVID, but my sister in law passed away suddenly on March 27 after eight and a half weeks of being diagnosed with bile duct, live and gall bladder cancer.
"That's been tough because she came into our family when I was seven, so she's been in our lives for about 45 years.
"A week later my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer."
Mrs Sordello King said that her mother was doing "spectacularly well for a 90 year old" with her treatment and the community had rallied.
"She lives on her own and normally has carers come in a couple of times a week to take her shopping as she doesn't drive," she said.
Mrs Sordello King's parents migrated from Italy - her mother in 1952, father in 19561 - and moved to Horsham in 1954.
She arrived in Australia, speaking no English, with just a suitcase and the hope of a new life. She was separated from her new husband, Michael, for 18 months, after he emigrated early and then worked to save the passage for her to join him.
They chose to settle and raise a family in Horsham.
Mrs Sordello initially began working on an ironing press and then moved to Holeproof in Horsham were, for the next 35 years, she worked as a seamstress during intricate work, including samples.
Her passion for sewing remains.
Mrs Sordello King said her mother remained an "incredible seamstress" who could make wedding dresses and still had clients.
"At 90 she is still sewing for women who just pop around and say "can you just alter this" or make that," Mrs Sordello King said. "She made a suit recently."
The support of the Horsham community and her extended family means Mrs Sordello has been able to remain in her beloved home.
"She lives in the same house - she bought us up there - and doesn't want to leave," Mrs Sordello King said.
"She doesn't have any of her own family close by, but I have incredible cousins, particularly three of them. Mum's eldest niece is turning 80 this year and she helps care for mum. She's Maria Da Ros, who owns Da Ros fashion.
"Mum also has two other nieces - one's a nurse and the other one is a carer - and her neighbours across the road, husband and wife, are nurses as well and they help mum out heaps.
"It's a real community effort providing support and making sure she is OK. "
Despite the delay, plans remain for the family to mark the birthday with a large bash.
On the day of Mrs Sordello's birthday in May, three generation of the immediate family headed to Horsham to celebrate, with only 10 at the party due to restrictions.
The following Sunday, an afternoon tea for her family and friends was held, "which was really lovely".
"We need to get together as a family to celebrate," Mrs Sordello King said.
"I don't think it is a milestone you can just let pass by."
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