Happy birthday Dad… (In memory of Neli Maliumai Atiga)

Neli Maliumai Atiga

I really miss my father – don’t worry this is not one of those emo blogs… (neither is it an elmo type blog: always strangely happy with bad grammar and references to myself in third person). It was his birthday yesterday, and his wedding anniversary the day before. I just realized that I haven’t written too much about my pops since his passing, and for all those wonderful friends who offered condolences to my family and I without knowing who he is, I present to you just a glimpse of what my Dad was like.

I wanted you to see how wonderful a man he is, beyond highly insufficient twitter updates during the time. This is also at best, very insufficient in description.

My dad went to be with our LORD on December 17th 2009, after 74 and a half years of life to the full – and he went out with a bang. More on that later. But for now, here’s a few things that my dad possessed, that I noticed that the FATHER has, and that I now as a father and a follower of Christ hope to attain.

Dad was always around, and always on time.

What’s pretty shoddy on my part is that I have no excuse for being late. My dad embodied promptness. Always around 20 minutes early to pick my sister and I up from school. Never missed a game, never missed a piano recital. He prioritized his family. Our love tanks were filled to overflowing with love from Dad.

Dad was an artist.

My dad loved good classic movies – his favourite actors ran the gamut: Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Fred Astaire and his favourite, the swordsman Errol Flynn. We shared the same favourite musical in our house between my dad, my sister and myself: West Side Story (my mum was more of a Sound of Music person).My dad could outdance ballroom and outsing me to shame. His tenor was one of such a natural purity that it would pierce through the frequency quagmire that it often found itself entangled in when in choirs, particularly Samoan church ones (kidding – but really!). That’s probably why I got into rapping – he was too good.

My dad had a great sense of humour.

My dad is one of the funniest guys I have ever encountered in my life. Any humour that I can claim, whether good or dry, comes from my dads uncanny ability to see relief in any situation by tapping into the comedy of it – often with a nip of cynicism. I loved it, how he would imitate and reenact moments of hilarity.

My daughter Naz has inherited his open-mouthed smile

He was more of a fan of humour of a British variety, and didn’t fancy any of the post-Cosby prime time US sitcoms of the 80’s and 90’s. When they would come on, he’d turn to good old Channel 1. If you need to know the difference between NZ Channel 1 and Channel 2/3 humour, ask a kiwi. My dad was a Channel 1 guy – except when the long running British soap Coronation Street came on, he’d ask me “how did any of these people get on TV?”.

My dad had convictions.

No, not convictions of a criminal kind. But convictions that would cause him to be steadfast in his views of truth. I don’t know too much about my dad’s life before he had his life transformed by an experience with God, he spent the remainder of his life from that point of transformation, living out what he considered God’s plan was for his life – and to the extreme. Never a day was there that he wasn’t writing in his journal and reading his good old black and red Samoan bible in conjunction with his tattered Good News Bible, and not because he had to, but because he loved the God who had transformed his life.

My dad on his deathbed spent his final hours praying for different groups of visiting people to fulfill their God given destinies, speaking about standing firm in your faith in God. This indeed was the embodiment of his life in general – living fully out for others. He spent his life completely, that others would see their lives transformed by God – including mine. A life well spent…

I stand on the shoulders of this giant of faith, and I can’t wait to see him again.

Happy Birthday Dad – We love you so much! The world is not the same without you, but it will never be the same because of you.

(My sons middle name is Nelson because he is the son, not of me Neli, but of my dad, Neli…)

Alofaaga, your son Neli.


9 thoughts on “Happy birthday Dad… (In memory of Neli Maliumai Atiga)

  1. I love this blog about ur Dad – he sounds like an awesome dad and man of God. I’m sure he’s so proud of you, and Naz! thanks for sharing. u make me miss him even though i haven’t met him…haha.

  2. What a an excellent tribute to your father’s birthday. I say Amen to all that.
    Thank you for this, it reminds me of what I am missing right now. You made my day son.

  3. Well said Neli. Uncle sure was an amazing man of God. Very strong in his faith and always happy to share about the wonderful love of our Father. I too look forward to seeing him again one sweet day!!
    Much alofas,

  4. Neli, did you have to go and make me cry again? This is awesome, Cuz! Uncle was a great man. My mom always spoke highly of him. That was for starters because the more I got to know him, I realized that what my Mom said were true and beyond. I’m grateful I got to meet and learn from Uncle. I’m a better person for having known him.

    Well, I can’t go without paying tribute to Aunty because she also had a big part in his life. Thank you Aunty for taking great care of our uncle. You are a blessing in our lives.

    Neli, thanks again for sharing this. You da Man!

    Love you too too much…

    Please give our love to Tina and the kids.

  5. Hey Neli, thank you so much for this! I needed to read this today. As we are preparing for Mother’s Day (first one without Mom) this helps me feel closer to her, too! I am so thankful that I was able to meet and know and love Uncle mai—both through my Mom’s constant reminders to us of him, and meeting and getting to know him personally. I am thankful that he is my family. In what you wrote, I saw a lot of my own Mom—daily scripture reading, journal writing, constant reminders and examples of living a life for Christ!—My Mom to the T…cut from the same cloth, for sure!

    I love you Neli. Please give Aunty a big hug from me. Pls relay my love to her and to Tina, Nazareth and Zion. I look forward to the day when I can meet and get to know your sweet family. God bless and be with you always. ~Sina

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