The genuine positivity Karen Dickson-Murley feels about her life and the people in it radiates from her face like sunbeams.
Karen, 52, loves being with her family and friends, serving locals through her job at Our Little Shop and pottering around in the garden or baking up a storm at home.
From the moment Karen fell pregnant with her daughter, she never felt alone.
Mikaela, or Micky-D as Karen affectionately calls her, is now 25.
“The most exciting thing that ever happened to me was having Mikaela. She’s my best little mate and my number one priority,” she said.
“We became so linked to the community by having her – we met people at tennis, netball, Little Athletics – you make lifetime friends that way. Without Mikaela I probably wouldn’t know half the people in this community I do today.”
Karen counts her late dad, Joey Jack, among her biggest inspirations in life.
He always doted on Karen as she grew up the only girl and the youngest of four big brothers at the family home in Arana Hills on the Northside of Brisbane.
Her mum Ruby, 88, still lives in that same home.
Joey Jack was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when Karen was six months old, and he passed away one month after she met Darryl in 1991.
“Dad was my hero, someone who never judged, and I could just sit there and talk to him, tell him anything, and my mum – it’s still the same with her to this day,” she said.
They didn’t know it then, but when Karen and Darryl met Craig, it was pure serendipity.
“We were out cycling on Allan Creek Road and Craig was there and Darryl and I hadn’t met him, so Craig and I got talking and he’d lost his wife to a blood clot,” she said.
“I rode up to Darryl and said, ‘the guy back there is really nice, he’s just lost his wife’ and Darryl rode beside him then said to me, ‘I’ve just asked him to help with your 50th birthday’ because we were going to the Great Ocean Road for my 50th.
“Darryl passed before I turned 50 (he died in a tragic road accident while cycling on 22 November 2016) so Craig and I eventually got married on my 50th on the Great Ocean Road, which just seemed appropriate and perfect timing. Darryl really liked him.
“I was so blessed to meet Craig, and like my brother says, ‘some people never meet their soulmate, but you’ve met two’.
“When you lose someone, you never stop loving them, and I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else because Craig and I understand that for each other – it’s not that you love either of them more than the other, but that love is always there.”