What do you do with a 6 x 8 quilt that is a patchwork collection of a very special someone’s life? Bob and Vickie Owens built a room around it.

 

In April of 1996, the Owens’ daughter Aimi died in a boating accident at Lake Travis. Aimi was a beautiful, vivacious, 21-year- old college student studying nutrition at the University of Texas. This devastating accident affected many lives, especially Aimi’s Austin neighbor Allison Cook. Allison and her mother Louisa collected some of Aimi’s special belongings — a flannel gown, college insignia T-shirts, a favorite dress — while helping clean out her apartment. Louisa knew a quilter in Gilmer, an east Texas town, who made a quilt from these items for the Owens.

 

“This is really why we built this upstairs room,” Vickie says with a smile. “We needed somewhere to display the quilt and this was perfect.” Just as Aimi held a prominent place in their lives, this quilt now hangs in a prominent place in their second story den.

 

“Aimi was the princess and was very important in our life, and still is,” says Vickie.

 

The Owens have been Lake Highlands residents for 25 years. This traditional home is their second home in the neighborhood. Aimi, their first child, graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1993. Kyle, who is now 13, attends Liberty Christian School.

 

“We originally moved to Lake Highlands because of the schools. We soon needed more room,” says Vickie. “This house was so ugly when we first bought it that Aimi wouldn’t tell her friends the address. It was that typical 1970s Spanish architecture that you see in Lake Highlands.

 

“But we remodeled and added some windows, shutters, and now you could never tell what it looked like, originally. Our neighbor, Peggy Hill, who is a local real estate agent, often points out our home to clients as an example of what one can do to transform a house.”

 

Aimi was very active while a student at Lake Highlands. She was an officer on the Lake Highlands drill team. Soon after the Owens were settled in, they added a pool so Aimi could have a place to bring her friends and “hang out” as teenagers do. Now that Kyle is a teenager, their home is once again filled with teenagers “hanging out.”

 

 

 

“It was the community spirit that kept us in Lake Highlands,” says Vickie. “Once Aimi had car trouble on Audelia and several Lake Highlands moms stopped to help because they recognized her car,” Vickie recalls.

 

This neighborhood closeness that was so very evident to the Owens family at Aimi’s funeral. So many fellow students and parents attended the service that they spilled into the parking lot and filled the surrounding area. “There were so many former Lake Highlands High School students that returned for the service from college, that our long time Lake Highlands friend Barbara Floyd and her daughter Meredith organized a lunch for them. I remember that East Side Florist delivered flowers almost every hour. The employees at this florist were so touched by the outreach of others that they also sent flowers,” Vickie and Bob recall.

 

The upstairs den holds other family memories for the Owens. On the coke machine is a picture of Vickie’s dad pictured in a Coca Cola advertisement. Their son Kyle’s art work is also displayed with the many pictures of friends and family on ski trips and at special occasions. All of these surround the family as they watch TV or play board games. Shelves hold memories of Bob and Vickie’s youth as well as Aimi’s drill team accomplishments.

 

When the Owens built this addition, they added another bedroom and bath as well as a kitchen area upstairs. “We have been blessed to have this area. It has allowed us to host several missionaries who have come to visit America,” said Vickie. “This is a place where they could have privacy while in our country.” A United Methodist Bishop from Nigeria and his wife are just some of the international visitors that the Owens have graciously hosted.

 

As you stroll through the home you will see many other evidences that Aimi is still very much apart of their lives. In the downstairs den rests a very unique end table. This concrete square actually came from their driveway. Aimi had decorated Christmas ornaments on the driveway and left spray painted shapes of mittens. (These mittens were saved and given by Bob and Vickie to their special friends as Christmas gifts.) Before the paint could weather, Bob contracted someone to remove the 2×2 foot square of concrete and re-patch the driveway. Bob then mounted the 100+ pound square and set in on wheels. He laughs remembering how the contractor wondered just how they would get the piece of concrete into the house.

 

Even the landscape has precious memories as most of the garden mums and azaleas are from friends who expressed their sorrow when Aimi died.

 

Vicki says: “The garden angels, as well as other angels placed throughout the house, have been given to us by friends over the years as a reminder, like the quilt, of our angel in heaven.”