IT’S BEEN A YEAR, NIGEL

April 24, 1960 – August 11, 2022

At 7.01pm on this day, Sarah’s message came in… Sadly missed…Fondly remembered…With the family always.

Family zoom meet during 2021 lockdown

Family. Picture of yesteryear.

“Goooddd times!”

“Alan, don’t send the stuff yet bcos the nurse said I can go home for the rest of my quarantine and that op will be done by Jabatan Kesihatan (1) near me.”

Ok.

“I was told that since mine was Stage 1, I  had to go home to make room for those who were in Stage 4 or 5.

So, the only problem is how am I to go back with the pink bracelet on? The nurse suggested  that someone drive my car to the hospital and leave the keys at the reception. They will send the keys up to me. Then, that someone could follow my car till I reached home.”

I called Shirley and asked her to get his car ready. I would be over in half an hour to pick it up.

I was kind of nervous as to how to deal with this matter when I got to the hospital.  On one hand, I did not quite like the idea of handing the car keys to a stranger at the hospital reception. On the other hand, I only had my 1st vaccine jab; my second was over a month and a half away. I did not want to have direct contact and be exposed to the virus myself and possibly spread it to others that I come in contact with. 

I parked his car as close to the designated entrance / exit for covid-19 as possible. I left the car keys on the top of the car and waited for him.

As he came out of the exit, which was like a side door or rear of the hospital (this section of the hospital was specially cordoned off as a unit to receive and discharge patients in relation to the treatment of Covid-19); I was happy to see him. We kept a distance of about 5 metres apart and talked for a bit. “I am getting a ride back from Ganesan, (who was parked a couple of cars away). We will follow you back to Subang Jaya to ensure you get home safely, I told him.”

All this took place on July 29th, 2021 – the second last time I would see him. At this time, he was sporting a pink hand band; not by choice but a requirement to identify people with Covid-19.

A few days later, I realized that the Discharge Note from the hospital was still with me. I texted him to let him know that it  was with me.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021; was pink-band removal day. Mid-morning, I get a phone call. “I am at the KMM (3) centre in Shah Alam. They want the hospital Discharge Note as proof of when I was discharged from the hospital.” He sounded quite irritated. I told him that I was at home, that he could come over to pick up the Discharge Note.

He was at my gate in twenty minutes. I put the Discharge Note in an envelope and placed the envelope on the top of the gate’s pillar. Then, I stepped back from the pillar. I did not hand it to him directly as we were maintaining a safe distance between us. He took the envelope, showing his irritation that he had to wait quite a while at the centre before he was attended to; then to be told that he needed to provide this Discharge Note before he could have the pink band officially cut off.

As I watched him walked to his car and get in, I noticed that he grimaced with pain. As he drove off, I never would have guessed that it would be the last time I would see him…ever.

Celebrating his birthday last Sunday (April 24th) in a small way, was special for Jeannie and me. Nigel loved family gatherings, and he loved simple food with a condition – it had to be local and savoury. So, we celebrated his birthday at Tokyo Secret, a restaurant in Mid-Valley Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur (5).

Tokyo Secret is known for their Hanjuku cheese tarts. I deliberately did not use that phrase “people say that it is …ok ok, I will say it “famous”. Who are these “people”? I did not think much of the cheese tart, but that is just me. Nigel would have liked it, after he had his nasi lemak.

Happy Birthday, Nigel! We can hear you say “Goooddd times!” We celebrate this occasion with one of your favourite songs.

Nigel, at his 61st in 2021.

NOTES:

  1. Jabatan Kesihatan is Bahasa Malaysia for Health Ministry in Malaysia.
  2. Part of this article was written at the motor workshop while waiting for my e46 engine to be repaired. Something about another coil konking out, having replaced 2 coils earlier on. This time it was #2 coil.
  3. “Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia” is Bahasa Malaysia for Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
  4. Subang Jaya and Shah Alam are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
  5. Kuala Lumpur city is the capital of Malaysia.

NIGEL – A MONTH LATER

As I sit here, thinking of what I should write about Nigel, I keep asking myself what he would have liked me to write about him.

First of all, it was not in my plans or my schedule to pen down (actually “tap, tap, tap” on the keyboard. The sound was more like “teep, tap, teep, terp-tup, tick-tac”. The “ter-tup” is the sound when hitting the spacebar. The “tick-tac” is the sound of the mouse left-button click. No scroll bar sound on the mouse as I have it on free play so that I can scroll 1,000 lines per second or so it claims.)

There is so much to write about Nigel as he never led a mundane life. I wrote down three virtues in my writing “sketch” pad, which I will share here. He had many but I will talk about three for now.

Nigel was, is and will be for evermore a family man to his wife Shirley and daughter, Sarah. He would ensure that Shirley is seen off when she goes to work, do most of the house errands, making sure that the bills were paid on time, buy lunch and dinner for them or see to it that there were meals for them, ensure the house was always clean and tidy (here – he ensured that he would see to it as cleanliness and tidiness had to meet his standards). He practically did most of the things for them. Both Shirley and Sarah shared with us, his siblings; that they did not have to do anything, he would take care of everything as he always going to be around.

Though he was very protective of his family which included us, his siblings and our families, mum and dad and his very close friends; Nigel had a stubbornness for no nonsense. He was strongly guided by a set of principles based on his Christian faith and belief in God. He would not bend these principles even by a little bit.

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On the stroke of midnight as we ushered in the new year on January 1st 2018, our cousins, Brendon Surin from Perth, Australia; Darren Atkinson; Nigel and I made a new year’s resolution to reduce weight and the size of our potbellies. In fact, we had pictures taken of the four of us – believe me, it was not a pretty picture. Haha.

At that time; we thought it was just going to be one of those “every new year make resolutions” and then forget about them the next day.

About a week or so later, one bright spark (can’t remember if it was me) came up with a zany idea that we walk from SS15 mamak restaurant (spelling is wrong – it usually reads “restoran”) in Subang Jaya all the way to KLCC Shopping Centre in K.L. (or Kay El or Kuala Lumpur). Jeannie, my wife; warmed up to the idea and said, “let’s do it”. She was the fittest of the four of us. We set the date on the 1st day of Chinese New Year, which was a public holiday.

At 5.30am on that February 16th morning, we set out from the mamak restaurant in SS15. We walked past Sunway Pyramid, turned into Sunway Bestari and crossed the Federal Highway.

Then, we cut across Petaling Jaya by walking though Kampung Tunku, SS1, SS3, Section 14, 13, 17, across University Malaya to Bangsar; our first section in Kuala Lumpur.

We went past Majestic Hotel where mum and dad had their wedding reception on June 16th 1956; headed for Jalan Ampang and finally got to KLCC. Sounds simple but it took us 7 hours to cover the 26 kilometer excursion. The weather was cool in the morning but got really hot as it approached noon.

Nigel was the man of the hour. He kept a steady brisk pace throughout the journey. Jeannie enjoyed herself as she got to see may parts of our journey in detail; which otherwise we would miss when travelling by car or other types of vehicles.

Darren, with his futsal training; kept up with Nigel. I, was the one who slowed down the others. I kept saying that this was a ridiculous idea to begin with and I literally struggled to keep up. And that’s putting it mildly.

These are the things we did for adventure, which reminded us of similar adventures we had during our school days, like cycling through what was once palm oil estates; now it is Taman Chi Liung and Bukit Tinggi housing estates in Klang.

We never repeated the KLCC walk after that, though nowadays; I am quite use to walks of between 15 kilmometers to 30 kilometers a day, every day.

May be an image of 4 people, including Alan Ian Atkinson, Darren Atkinson, Jeannie Atkinson and Nigel Atkinson and people smiling

Right to Left: Nigel, Jeannie, Darren and myself. This was taken near the Icon City, Petaling Jaya.

Here, I am looking at the time, distance covered, pace and estimated time of arrival. Darren is checking his phone for messages. And Nigel, look at him: he looks like he is impatient to get on with our journey. Haha (We will have to settle for “Haha” as my keyboard does not have a key for emojis.) This picture was taken near the Icon City, Petaling Jaya.

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Nigel was not financially rich. It never stopped him from being generous. He always helped family and friends whenever he could, with whatever he had, even to the point on many occasions where he sacrificed and did without many things that he wanted. He always went beyond the call of duty. That was Nigel.

He and Shirley related some of the tough times they went through many years ago when they first got married and even through their married life. Financially; they sacrificed. It strengthened their lives together and gave them the resolve that they could do anything. They were happy. It was their 34th wedding anniversary a few days ago, on August 31st.

Today marks 1 month since Nigel left us. The only images I keep getting of Nigel is that he is always smiling , he is happy. And that is what he would want of all of us.

May be an image of Nigel Atkinson and smiling

Nigel Edward Atkinson

(24th April, 1960 – 11th August, 2021)

Nigel, with his derby cap

Here I was, about to release my blockbuster of the week article with a little sense of humor (at least to me); and you decide to crash in, or check out, whatever it may be; without saying “bye” to all of us. You did not pull the rug from under us; you pulled the whole floor! (I would like to add a few cheeky words, but best not to; though you’d agree and laugh whole heartedly!)

Growing up with Nigel, was colourful, to say the least. He did things first, including his fist; then talk later. His friends in school… La Salle School, Klang had a subsidiary at 21, Jalan Ladang, Klang – our house. It was a very comfortable house with a large garden surrounding it.

Our house had a badminton court, too. You guessed it – Almost everyday, we had 30 or 40 boys – Nigel, Terence, Malcolm and my friends at our house. Jen and oh ya, my parents had their friends and family over, too but not as consistent as the guys from La Salle. We had badminton on the court, hockey in the garden at the side of the house, table-tennis (mainly Malcolm’s friends) – it was a daily hive of activity, from morning to night.

Nigel has always been a vain pot. Hmmm…. sounds familiar. Aah yes… our late sister, Jen. I used to say that “no camera could ever escape Jennifer.” It’s true! She was always insistent that we take loads and loads of pictures, especially at our very oft family gatherings.

Coming back to being a vain pot; you’ve always been a poser, Nigel, making sure you always looked good in the shots. Here, you were more a perfectionist and because of your eye for detail; you always made sure you looked good for every picture taken.

Nigel, from young, always had to look good.

Nigel was a stickler for being tidy and clean. When he arranged things in a particular way, it stayed that way. Nothing out of place, even the tiniest object, would escape his eye. Friends and family would often, purposely put Nigel to the test by moving things out of place. He would walk by these things, and instinctively move them back to their original positions. Another quirk he had was that the kitchen sink had to always be empty, cleaned and dried; before going to bed. All things in it had to be washed and put away. He would do the washing of dishes himself; to make sure the kitchen was tidy.

Nigel loved a good family gathering. You just have to call and he, Shirley and Sarah would be there. And when there was food; it had to be Asian – rice being the primary dish. He loved spicy, Asian food, especially the wide variety of Malay food.

Nigel, sitting behind the table, Jennifer is forth from the left and the rest of the Atkinson family. This picture was taken in 2018 when our cousins came visiting from Australia; special visit to Jennifer. Seated from left: Virginia (Australia), dad, Veronica (Australia), Jennifer, Uma. Standing at the back: Tim, Alana, Ashley, Mabel. Back rear row: Terence, Mum, Valencia (Australia), Audra (Australia), Ray. On the floor from left: Jeannie, Malcolm, Nigel (behind the table), Shirley, myself, Laura and Sarah.

Nigel did not have much material wealth, but he always gave more than his heart, always! He was generous to those in need. His friendship reached far and wide to Affendi – a gem of a guy and trusted mechanic, the plumber, the electrician…and the list goes on. In fact whenever we needed repairs to be done in the house or car, or needed to get something at the best price with trustworthy services, we will turn to Nigel for his contacts and recommendation.

Here, just after having lunch with Chef Wan at his restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. It was more than just lunch. It was entertainment. Chefy had lost none of his “charm” after all these years. Jeannie introduced Sarah, a budding chef in her own right; to learn from Chefy – his experience as a world renowned chef. He holds no punchlines and cakap faster than a speeding bullet train.
I know you will love, this Nigel. I think Laura was about 5 or 6 years old and Sarah was 8 or 9 years old when this picture was taken.
Nigel, his usual self – looking at his best!
Not adding this, his Mercedes Benz W123, would be a story left untold. Nigel has always loved Mercedes Benz. He laboured over this car to bring it to showroom condition.

Nigel loved to sing, besides being the live wire in any conversation or party. He was always full of jokes and always shared jokes in our family Whataspp group. The only thing he watched on tv were comedies. He will rattle away all the episodes that he had just watched, the actors, actresses and their punchlines.

The Atkinson brothers – barbershop quartet? R to L: Terence, Nigel, Alan & Malcolm
You would think this is Nigel singing as he often sang this theme song at our family gatherings. One of the tv shows he loved watching most.

I know that no matter how much I write, I say or I do; it is never going to bring you back. Ever. I love you, Nigel!

No matter what, you come back now, yer hear!