Memory quilt helps one mother remember

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ten years ago, Brenda Hooks lost her 15-year-old son, Robby, to a diving accident.

Robby’s brother, Brandon, was there when the accident happened.

“Losing Robby was a horrible tragedy,” Brenda Hooks said. “It was the worst thing that you could imagine. I couldn’t let go of Robby’s things. I wanted to hold on to everything because each one of them reminded me of Robby.”

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Brandon Hooks was two years younger than his brother and his mother realized that neither could she part with things that were so much a part of him.

“I don’t know why it was so important for me to keep Brandon’s things, too, but it was,” she said. “They were more than things. They were memories.”

Tragedy had taught Hooks how important memories are. “Sometimes they are all you have.”

One day, someone mentioned a memory quilt and Hooks wanted to know more.

“I was told that a memory quilt is made from scraps of cloth that have special meaning,” she said. “They can be any kind of scraps but they’re usually from old clothes.”

Hooks had held on to many of Robby’s clothes and continued to hold on to many of Brandon’s. She had become a real packrat, stuffing the shirts that he outgrew into a bag that was growing by leaps and bounds.

“Several years went by and I would think about the memory quilt but didn’t really know how to do it,” she said. “One day, someone told me about Mary Turner and what a great quilter she is. So, I talked to her about making a quilt out of Robby and Brandon’s old shirts.”

Turner agreed to make the quilt for Hooks so she gathered up all of the “scraps” and began to pick and choose.

“I had more than enough shirts to make a quilt,” she said. “Mary said I had enough to make two quilts. So, I decided to make one for Brandon and one for me.”

Hooks picked out shirts that had special meaning for Brandon.

“Brandon played all sports so there were a lot of ‘ball’ shirts to chose from,” she said. “I picked a few other shirts that I knew were special to him. And, I picked a shirt that Robby had made in vacation Bible school that had his handprints on it. I picked another shirt of Robby’s for Brandon’s quilt. His favorite football team was the Miami Dolphins. I bought him a Dolphins’ jersey and he loved it.”

Hooks also chose a photo of her as a young woman for her son’s quilt.

“Mary told me that the quilt could be used on the bed or as a wall hanging,” she said. “Brandon is a student at Troy University and he had just moved out this fall. I thought that a wall hanging would probably be a better use for his quilt,” she said. “I was going to keep it a secret but I was so excited about it that I couldn’t. When he saw the quilt, his eyes just lit up. There were so many memories there, his own and memories of Robby.”

Brandon was surprised by the gift and very appreciative of it.

“I’m really proud that my mom did this,” he said. “It means a lot to me, especially because it has Robby’s shirts on it, too.”

Brenda Hooks is anxiously awaiting the completion of her quilt.

“I think that I’ll hang mine, too,” she said. “It’s such a nice way to bring back memories. I didn’t know about memory quilts until I just happened to hear someone mention them one day. And, I think there are others who might want to use their scraps in such a special way. I wanted them to know.”