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60 Years in the Making – 60 Anni di Vita

Scorri a basso per l’italiano


Here is a TikTok video for my 60th birthday - Ecco un video TikTok per il mio 60esimo compleanno


Today is my 60th birthday and this past week I have been reflecting on what a journey I’ve had. I was born in little town in France called Langogne, with current population around 3000, to Marietta and Serafino Gentile. We moved to Paray-le-Monial where my brother Enzo (Vincent) was born a couple years later.


On August 29th, 1968, our parents moved to Vancouver, British Columbia and our life in Canada started. Mom had four brothers and their families living in Vancouver so we were never alone. I had a wonderful childhood with many bumps along the way. I had a special bond with my daddy which lasted his lifetime but with mom it depended on the day as she had her own challenges. But when she had her great days, there was no better mommy….


I originally wanted to be a home economics teacher, therefore in high school I took courses to follow that passion. It wasn’t until working at the drugstore my passion changed to pharmacy. Only thing is I had to move to Templeton high school as it was a semester school and would be able to get my science/math completed before graduation.


Two weeks before graduation I meet the love of my life. When people say there is no love-at-first-sight, I say WRONG! It truly was love at first sight when I meet Gianni. Of course, that changed my plans of being a pharmacist to getting my pharmacy assistance degree. Less than three years later on April 28th, 1984, Gianni and I got married. I can hardly believe that in 2024 it will be 40 years.


Our life together started its foundation right away as I got pregnant with Angela and had her nine months later. Sadly, I had a car accident when she was only one that caused me to have several procedures and eventually surgery in my lower back. My health after that has never been good but I had an amazing care taker in Gianni and thankfully my parents and his were able to help as much as they could.


In 1988, Steven was born and soon after in 1989 we had Crystal. We had already moved three times and with the family having grown we built our big house in Port Coquitlam. Life was always hectic with three kids under 5. Never knew if we were coming or going but we made it work with the help of our family.


There was an opportunity with the Canadian and Italian government in 1992 that we could apply to hold dual citizenship. This was something they were doing for a short period of time. Therefore, we decided to get citizenship for all five of us. We thought, we never know if one of our kids would like to go to school or work in Italy. That same year we meet Gianni’s sister Nadja who was given up for adoption. What a wonderful relationship that has flourished into, with Stephan her husband, kids and parents.


I had started my own bookkeeping service and was a stay-at-home mom trying to cope with being PAC president, working, cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids and hubby. Then in 1996, I got hired at BC Tel (TELUS) and for two years didn’t give up the bookkeeping therefore was only sleeping three hours a night to achieve it all. Within this time, I had an addition 17 surgeries of all sorts and my health was never great. Tough times make us stronger, so they say!


Fast forward many years, when Angela, Steven and Crystal have married amazing partners Ian, Sarah and Chris. They had Brody, Blake, Weston, Jameson and Ariana, our grandchildren and are the joy of our lives. Gianni and I are incredibly proud of the lives they have created for themselves and are grateful they are healthy and living life to the fullest.


I lost my parents, dad struggled with Alzheimer’s for many years and mom with dementia. I really thought, what does God need me to learn from having both of them suffer with these horrible diseases. Watching them go through the phases, not recognizing who we were, the violence, the meanness, the brain just fading away, was incredibly hard.


It wasn’t until 2019 that I decided to change my focus on the health front. I started “Maria’s Wellness Journey” website to hold me accountable to my health and wellness. This has morphed to so much more and is truly a joy in my life. Of course, I’m still in a lot of pain and there are days all I want to do is curl up under a rock, but I get up and walk and my brain changes my bodies attitude.


Back to the Italian citizenship…. It came in handy when Chris, Crystal’s fiancé at the time, got a job in Borgomanero Italy, and they moved to Arona in October 2021. After mom’s passing in August of that year, I decided I’d retire in February 2022. In April, Gianni and I took a two-month vacation to spend time with Crystal and Chris. Who would know what life had in store for us!


Thankfully for our Italian citizenship, when Gianni got diagnosed with APL leukemia, we were able to get residency in Arona and he is getting the life saving treatment at Novara Hospital of Charity. Since then, we built a beautiful home here, Crystal and Chris had our first granddaughter Ariana and got married here, and Angela, Ian, Brody, Blake, Steven, Sarah, Weston, Jameson, family and friends have come for visits.


Gianni and I started our lives as Italian citizens, because even though I was born in France and he in Switzerland, we were registered Italian when we were born. Who would know that our life would go full circle and bring us back to our parents’ roots. At first it was tough, but now that the routine is in place, it has become normal. We go to Canada every opportunity the doctor lets us and cherish every moment we can on this earth.


I thank my angels and God every day for the life I have. Yes, the struggles were real and will be real, but these are the things that make us stronger and give us hope for tomorrow. I’m so excited to start my 60th year and will live life well always and cherish each day with my whole heart. Thank you to my brother Enzo, Lianne, Serafino and Enzo Jr. for always being there for us, to all my cousins that make me laugh every time we are together, to my extended family all over the world, to our friends that love us like family, you make me whole and I love all of you.


Thank you to Gianni for fighting everyday for our life together. You are my hero and my life and I love you with my whole heart and forever. For my kids and grandkids, you are and will always be what I live for, each of you are a piece of my heart which makes it whole.


Here are photo’s of my wonderful 60 years - Ecco le foto dei miei meravigliosi 60 anni


The beginning...L'inizio


Engagement and wedding - Fidanzamento e matrimonio


Me time - Mio Tempo



Family in no particular order - Famiglia in ordine non particolare


Friends - Amici