Writings of Sheri Hooper

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16 Candles

He is special. I knew it from the beginning. His beginning, the very first moments of his life. He was with us hours after conception and sixteen years later he is still here. It is magical. Dreamy. Unique. What began as my husband allowing our calico cat “Season Noel” accidentally escape out the door brought about a joy we cannot measure. We knew that Season was expecting kittens, or so we thought. . . as there was only one kitten conceived that winter of 2003. No problem, he was all the kitten we needed.

Rick and I read up on “Cat Midwifery.” We purchased supplies for the birthing anticipating what could go wrong and having the tools to fix whatever problematic issue that arose. The Veterinarian’s telephone number was near and we readied ourselves for the amazing experience of pregnancy and delivery.

I fed Season a special high protein diet. She ballooned up quickly. We assumed there were a multitude of kittens inside her. I warned Rick that no matter how many there were, we were keeping all of them. He let her bolt out the front door looking for “Tom” so he must deal with the consequences. He agreed and it was settled. Season was our daughter “furbaby” and her babies would be our “grand cats.” Rick chose the name “Grumpy” and I adopted, “Bubbye.” We decided this would be our journey into being grandparents. These were more appealing titles than “Grandma and Grandpa.” This is how Grumpy and Bubbye were created.

Season was not pregnant very long, average time for cats is 58 to 67 days. I cleared out a hallway closet, made a firm but cozy bedding for Season with a heating lamp off to the side. Everything for the L&D was within hands reach. We were prepared for this event but what a surprise to find there was only one kitten inside this enormous cat. An eating maching, she went from 9 pounds to around 18 or 19 and she stayed that way.

Hours after the clock struck Midnight on April 12th, 2003 I walked past the closet to see that Season was breathing strangely with her mouth open. She was panting. I knew what this meant, she was laboring. It was time. I was on auto pilot, running around moving supplies like a freaked out expectant father. Labor was quick for her, and around 2:30 in the morning, Maury Joel Graham Hooper “Mauryman” came bolting into the world. Delivered on my red Christmas sweater, he was a tiny handful of dark fur. His meow was a sweet little squeal, he was darling and I fell in love right away. I was surprised that Season instinctively knew to put him on the breast. It was a beautiful heart warming miracle.

Over the next 36 hours Rick and I concerned ourselves with the other kittens. Of course they never showed because there were no other kittens conceived. Maury was the only cat of the litter. Mauryman stood out as different immediately. His conception was an accident though clearly not a mistake. We expected around nine kittens though only one little mystery appeared.

Maury became the “baby” of the family. He was spoiled beyond imagination. Nothing is too pricey for Mauryman be that toys, food or a heated bed we refer to as his “hot tub.” As an elderly cat he appreciates that warm bed. It really was not that costly to give him so much happiness. Maury has given us precious moments, why not give him back the same? Besides, he is my biggest fan.

Biggest fan you say? Yes. We cannot explain this. Trying will seem bizarre, but why not, I will attempt. Mauryman is a very individual cat. There are no others like him and we have had our fair share of animals. Maury does not come when you call him unless you know the sound he responds to. Saying “here kitty kitty” doesn’t bring him running. You could sing “Soft Kitty” for days and he would not bat an eyelash. However, have me strategically hidden anywhere in the house and sing Southern Gospel and he comes marching.

We have tried to fool him. Having Rick sing or me sing a different genre and he will ignore us. To get his attention I begin a few lines of something from The Gaither Vocal Band, The Inspirations, The Rambo’s, The Hopper’s, Gold City, Brian Free and Assurance, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Booth Brothers, he even likes Vestal Goodman (GOD REST) of The Happy Goodman Family. What can I say, our cat has class and knows good music when he hears it. To call on Maury, you simply start singing – Southern Gospel – and you better have skills in it!

Maury is truly exceptional and he has shown us that time after time. We feel gifted with this little guy, though like his mother, he is far from tiny. Rick and I are honored that GOD sent his spirit to live with us. He is loved very much.

We celebrated Maury’s birthday for 7 nights in a row this year. He had seven wonderful nights of special treats and a self moving car that moves forward when pulling back on it. It was a blast to observe the reaction!

Maury has his standards and Rick kept that in mind when he picked out a BMW for his 16th Birthday. Not only did Mauryman find his car entertaining but so did his “9 year old Uncle” Madden Hade. Both cats watched with great interest the silver car that moved on its own. Another treasured and whimsical moment in the wondrous life of Mauryman.

Sixteen years is a privilege to spend with him. I cannot help but wish for more time. We have never had an animal live this many years under our care. Maury is a pure soul filled with bliss. Every day we have with him is an additional blessing. We have loved all of our pets over the decades but there will never be another Mauryman. He is an award of discovery while Season’s legacy continues to live on.

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