Before my teenage years, when I was young and carefree, life was simple and I thought I was immortal. While watching a war movie when I was thirteen, it suddenly occurred to me that one day I would simply cease to exist, and it sent a shiver through my being.
When I was eight years old, I lost my loving paternal grandmother. My emotions were delayed until after the funeral, and grief struck me deeply when I realised that she had left my world permanently.
Although we tend to prepare for the inevitable passing of our parents, it doesn’t take the pain away. I feel that the depth of the pain is proportionate to the depth of the relationship.
Nothing even comes close to the abyss of pain I felt when I lost my favourite daughter in 2009. It shook me to my very core. It also made me realise how unpredictable life is and that tragedy happens to all of us.
It changed me in many ways. I became far more empathetic, and crying became a norm. I also became far more aware of my responsibilities to my two boys, other family members and the community at Elixr. And I learned to revel even more in life and appreciate my interaction with family, friends and people that I meet.
To maximise my longevity, I became more disciplined about exercising my body to keep it toned and supple. In fact, I continue to adapt my eating habits to be healthier.
There is no guarantee of longevity, but a healthy lifestyle brings many benefits, including feeling well in body and mind.
I am writing this while on a plane to Singapore as my elder brother Tony has just suffered a massive stroke and is in surgery as I make my way there.
Once again I am shaken to my core knowing that there’s a possibility I could lose my brother, who was my loving and caring guardian when I came to Sydney at the tender age of eleven.
Although he was tasked with the responsibility of caring for me when he was 21, he looked after me with aplomb. He rarely told me what to do, choosing instead to advise me on different options.
One of the most significant things he did was to give me the option to train in karate. The freedom to choose led to my love and passion for the discipline, and my brother encouraged me at age 14 to be a karate instructor and take over one of his classes.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have known that karate would develop the essence of my character, make an instructor out of me, give me the privilege of representing Australia, result in my Australian citizenship and lead me to the fitness world. It set the foundation and direction of my life.
I have a deep love and respect for my wonderful brother, so much so that I can’t even remember the last time I had an argument with him. It’s bittersweet to reflect on the many memories I have of him while he is at this precarious point.
So often we live in denial and naivety, and it’s at moments like these, when life is so unpredictable, that you realise what is truly important.
I hope my brother recovers so that I can create many more fond memories with him.
The last time I was in lockdown was in 1969, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, because racial riots broke out...