3/31/1997 - 4/23/2016It was with deep sorrow that we said goodbye to our beloved "Sam" on April 23, 2016. He had been a member of our family for 19 too-short years. He came into our lives when he was only 3 months old. As a kitten, he was adorable, playful, affectionate and very vocal. He stole our hearts and secured his place in our household immediately. Despite the fact that he was younger than the other two cats we had at the time, Sam was naturally dominant -- smart and strong-willed but never mean or aggressive -- he was the "Ruler of the Roost" and the undisputed "King of the Castle."

Sam grew into a remarkably beautiful boy. A striking tri-colored Maine Coon mix, he had the striped markings of a chipmunk down his spine, fur as soft as silk, and an expressive, sweet face that would brighten your day in an instant. He was larger than average in size -- nearly 15 muscled pounds in his prime -- but a gentle mini-giant he was, always graceful and lithe. He was very fastidious in his grooming habits, not allowing anyone unfamiliar to pet his sleek coat without first smelling them and "pre-approving" their touch.

He continued to be as vocal as he had been as a kitten; it was his way of communicating with his people. Although his 'meow' was a couple octaves higher than what one would normally expect from a large-ish, dominant, male cat, we never mentioned it within his hearing. ;)

Sam was what could generally be described as "low-maintenance" for most of his life. His needs were simple. Full food and water bowls were always tacitly appreciated because he was a grazer (as opposed to gobbler), periodically munching and lapping throughout the day/night. A clean litter box was also highly valued, given that he was so persnickety about his person. Indeed, during his entire 19 year lifetime with us, he never failed to use his box -- NEVER, not once. His only vice was a fetish for clean laundry -- if there was basket or drawer of clean laundry to be found, he found it and climbed in -- but we never minded.

Like most cats, Sam was a creature of habit, greeting us at the door after work or whenever we returned home from an outing. His social skills were very well developed too: regularly jumping into laps for hugs and adoration, and joining the family wherever we gathered in the house. He especially enjoyed keeping company in the kitchen whenever food was being prepared. Naturally, he expected his tribute from the family "kill" but he was well-mannered about it -- dignified, you could say. Sharing was simply the way of the "pride," and we obliged him always, whether or not he decided to partake, but freshly cooked chicken breast, was never refused.

When not interacting with us directly, Sam had his regular routines and places to perch throughout the house. In the mornings, he often hung out in one of the bathrooms wherever his people were and wherever water was running. He was mesmerized by water, even trying (and sometimes succeeding) to get in an occupied shower. Throughout the day he sought comfort in various locations throughout the house -- relaxing on the cushions on the back of the couch in front of the window that enabled him to bird and squirrel watch, stretching out on the warm patches of sunshine on the floor made by the skylights (as the sun moved, he moved with it), curling up in the recliner in the den with the heated blanket to keep him warm in the colder months, or sitting on the top step of the open staircase that allowed him the best vantage point from which to keep an eye on household activities. At night, though, he could always be found leaning on a pillow in bed (eerily humanlike), or curled nose-to-tail, warm and safe under the arm of one of his people.

No matter where he was, Sam always seemed to know instinctively when he was needed. His job, as we think he understood it, was to provide comfort, love and affection to his people during difficult times. And he performed that "job" admirably -- doing something funny or unusual to give a needed chuckle, laying in the lap of someone ill to calm them and make them feel loved, 'head-butting' someone lost in one of life's many trials and tribulations as if to bring them back to the present, lending his soft fur to absorb the tears that are occasionally and inevitably a part of life, or just being there, usually purring loudly, to remind us that we weren't alone.

Sam was always there for us, so when he first became seriously ill in January 2015 (he was nearly 18 years old at the time) and we were told his liver was failing and that he likely only had days or weeks to live, we were there for him. He was not in acute pain, fortunately, so we were determined to do everything we could to make whatever time he had left as comfortable and happy as possible. Amazingly, Sam fooled us all by responding well to treatment. He regained strength and weight, and his condition improved markedly. Although we knew the treatment wasn't a cure, Sam was able to resume his normal, if a bit less active, routines for more than a year following that grim prognosis. We recognized the additional time as a precious gift and took that opportunity to enjoy and appreciate every moment with him. Sadly, at the beginning of April 2016, his condition began to deteriorate again and no manner of treatment helped this time. His veterinarian said the fact that Sam had beaten the odds for so long, defied all logic and was a testament to his strength of will and constitution.

Sam gave so much joy to us throughout his life. He was the epitome of the dignified cat, a gentleman through and through. He was our special little man and we loved him dearly. Words cannot express the depth of our heartbreak at Sam's loss. We will forever miss his strong personality and demeanor, his beautiful countenance, his sweet voice, his always-ready love and affection, and the pure pleasure of his presence in our everyday lives.
Spencer FamilyPotomac Falls, VirginiaApril 30, 2016
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Sammy, you will forever be in our hearts!Tricia Jenkins - April 23, 2017
Today marks one year since we lost our "little man." Lost but never forgotten...

"If tears could build a stairway,
and memories a lane,
I would walk right up to Heaven
and bring you back again.
Too big are their Hearts,
too short are their lives."
Spencer Family - April 23, 2017
It's Christmas, Sam and we still love and miss you. I will see you in Valhalla, fierce hunter, loyal friend.Kevin H - December 26, 2016
Almost a month has passed since we lost you, Sam.. We miss you so very much... and will always keep you in our hearts.Spencer Family - May 20, 2016
Gene Masseth - May 6, 2016
Run free beyond the bridge Sam.William Cusick - May 6, 2016
I'm sorry for your loss. Our furry family members are loved and missed just like any other family member.

Travel the bridge Sam, peace and comfort await you, so you can be ready when your family comes for you.
Merry Wehrle - May 6, 2016
So sorryRobert Kharter - May 6, 2016
Pets: The only time they break your heart is when they die.Lee451 Henderson - May 6, 2016
So sorry for your loss.
If you need anything, just call.
Andi & Shawn
Andrea Huff - May 5, 2016
Sammy you brought so much joy and happiness to everyone that knew you! There will always be a special place in our hearts for you. There is someone, very special to all of us, that will love and protect you until you are reunited with your love ones.Tricia Jenkins - May 4, 2016
You are in our thoughts and prayers, much love to you and yours.Huff Family - May 3, 2016
Sam was a wonderful cat - our thoughts are with you.Fritz Ezold - May 3, 2016
Miss you, Sam.Kevin Hildebeidel - May 2, 2016
Farewell to a great and much-loved kitty man. It was an honor to have met you.Nora Glaser - May 2, 2016
We will miss you, Sam! Forever in our hearts! We will all be looking after your person for you! Love you!!Brandy Stoeckel - May 2, 2016
We miss you Sam!Becky Stoeckel - May 2, 2016

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