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Karla Rawles Naturopath with her Dad

30 years

My Dad died 30 years ago today. He was 50. I was 8. He went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Here one day, gone the next. At such a landmark anniversary, when yet again I’m reminded how long I’ve lived without him, I reflect on the impact of his death on my life.

For 30 years, I’ve had it drummed into me to ‘get my cholesterol checked’ and ‘be healthy’. So I did and I’ve tried. Yet after 3 decades and a science degree I’m still working it out. It’s so simple in the most complicated way possible. Healthy eating. What does this really mean? Back then, when Dad was overweight and had off the chart cholesterol, he was told to eat margarine instead of butter and limit his egg consumption. That was healthy eating. These days we (mostly) know better, but there’s still a lot to learn. This fuels my knowledge quest as a Naturopath, while trying to get the ‘how to be healthy’ message out there amid the noise of fads and dodgy science.

For 30 years, I’ve known sudden loss. This has given me a deep appreciation that life cannot be taken for granted. I always try to say a proper goodbye; in case I don’t get another chance. I never go to sleep on an argument. This has fostered my persistence for problem solving, even when it’s late at night and there’s no answer. This determination keeps me going during the tough times of having a small business and reinforces my attitude of never giving up. I think knowing from such a young age how quickly life can end has driven me to achieve many things. I had the confidence to start a new life in Australia, change careers and take risks in love. Because how do we know how long any of us has?

For 30 years, I’ve been living in the aftermath of his death, watching my Mum go it alone. In the early years, I saw her fight for our family’s financial security with the very guts of her soul, even while wading through the most debilitating grief. She stood strong for me and gave me enough love for two parents, even when this depleted her energy and wellbeing. This strong role model instilled courage, perseverance and determination in me to get through the shit, no matter how bad it was, but it also showed me how important it is to take care of yourself. This is a balancing act I will be practising for the rest of my life.

I’m sharing this on my business page because, for me, there’s no difference between professional and personal life – it’s all one. What influences me in my personal life impacts my work and vice versa.

Mum tells me that Dad would be so proud. I believe her. But the only real way I’ve coped with the last 30 years of growing up without him is to believe he knows where I am and what I’m doing. And that he’s still here, in a sense.

I struggle to accept he only lived for 12 years beyond my age now. This motivates me to find the balance between living for the moment in case there’s no tomorrow and living with forethought of what will serve my health long term. I’ve now committed my working life to helping others achieve this balance too.

This photo was taken at Christmas 1984 when I was 3 years old, years before we had to say farewell without a goodbye. And decades before I learnt to use a real stethoscope.