Niema\r\n\r\nWhen I was married, I wanted a Golden Retriever for about 10 years, before I actually had the nerve, against my husband\'s wishes, to purchase one. Four years before that actually happened another holiday season came when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas. A Golden Retriever!\r\n\r\nThat was not to be the gift, yet again. But, I could, pick out another cat. And, so, we went to a pet store where I met a Russian Blue who was isolated from the other animals, older than the litter of kittens being showcased, and who stole my heart. I named her Niema, after the wife of a famous Jazz musician. It seemed appropriate for something dark and exotic. And, I nursed her back to health, sparing her from an untimely expectancy.\r\n\r\nNiema became a victim of divorce, mine. After finally getting a Golden, I had the dog less than a year, and Niema, four, and Lagniappe, eleven, when circumstances forced a move where something had to go...and that was the cats.\r\n\r\nNiema went to live with Grand human, Vivian in New Orleans, along with Lagniappe. The first night at Grand human\'s, Niema escaped through a window on the back porch and set out on a three week survival mission. Whether she aborted the mission to find her way back to Indiana or she stayed close to home, snacking on outside treats Grand human left for her is uncertain. But, after three weeks, she emerged mostly unscathed.\r\n\r\nGrand human was now a widow and not a cat person, but she was the kind of person who came to the rescue of her daughter and so she took the cats. \r\n\r\nEventually, Lagniappe succumbed to advancing age and Niema and my widowed mother settled into a health/unhealthy codependent existence. My mother adored Niema, eventually loving her as she might have a granddaughter, had she ever had one. \r\n\r\nNiema came back to live with me briefly, after a surgery required my mother spend six months in a nursing home in rehab. Those six months, she found independence she\'d never experienced, coming and going from the doggy door in the studio in the house I then occupied, sunning herself on the patio table next to Smiley, a neighborhood cat, bringing home all sorts of kill, treasures to share with her family.\r\n\r\nWell, by Christmas, when my mother came to visit, she took Niema home with her to New Orleans. She made it quite clear that Niema was now and forever her cat!\r\n\r\nAt 15, and living an adored and relatively cushy existence with an old woman, who all but chewed her food for her, imagine being abandoned on August 29, 2005 at 9pm, when the paramedics forced her human to evacuate to safety in preparation of a killer storm. Left behind, she heard the roar of the winds, the flash of the lightening, the rumble of the thunder, she suffered the end of modern day utilities for that home, and finally, she jumped from furniture piece to furniture piece as the rising water forced her to seek higher sanctums as what once were fixtures, floated and sank beneath her, as the heat in an un air-conditioned home soared above 100. A piano given to her former human as a child, no longer a safe fortress from harm, a table top once so high, but now submerged in grimy, putrid, death-stained water. And, for 23 days, she drank from the liquid death, living off her body fat, until she was rescued. Imagine the fear and loneliness and horror of a creature so loved and so pampered. Alone in a death chamber that was once her private sanctuary. And, never again did she hear the lilting loving sound of her human\'s voice calling \"Neemi, Neemi.\"\r\n\r\nShe was rescued, but never really found. There was a cat that resembled Niema, adopted by a music teacher in Minnesota. I sent pictures of her to my mother. The music teacher sent notes to my mother, now in a nursing home in Tennessee. But, I was never really sure, for how could a 15 year old creature survive such an ordeal? However, my mother was secure in knowing that her precious Niema had found a safe haven after the storm in the warmth of the generous outpouring of a music teacher, even if she did live in the frozen tundra, so far away from the love of her aging companion. \r\n\r\nEve\r\n

Citation

“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed May 26, 2024, https://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/34055.

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