At church a few weeks ago, during a lesson on pioneers that may have rambled on a little too long, the Coach and I discussed a thought-provoking question: Which is heartier, pioneer stock or hobbit stock? Coach said hobbits. ("Mordor is tough terrain.") I said pioneers. ("Dude. Handcarts.") And then we wondered what would happen if the two were crossed? Could we create the ultimate in diminutive fortitude? A pioneer hobbit? A hobbit pioneer?
And then I realized: That miracle of genetics has already occurred in my own family. My youngest sister, Daisy Sandybanks of Frogmorton (also known as Teresa the Bookie) is just such a specimen.
I remember when Daisy was born. She was the most beautiful little girl, and her name (the real one, I mean), a combination of two grandmothers' names, just seemed to fit her. Her pioneer heritage showed from the start. Everything she did seemed prodigious. As a preschooler, she astounded people with her use of words like "actually." At 5 or 6 she memorized a three-minute talk and bravely recited it during the yearly children's primary presentation in sacrament meeting. As a child, she touched ward members with her earnest testimony, which she bore often. A few years later, she started writing sweet notes of encouragement to anyone she thought was having a hard time. Through the years, I've received many of those notes. I'm grateful for each one.
As an adult, Daisy's faith and fortitude are no less remarkable. Daisy spent last summer living in our basement--a situation which required all the courage she had to combat both the giant hobbit-eating spiders who shared her room, and my ever-changing moods. At the time I was seeing a therapist for depression, who recommended I make a list of things I'd enjoy doing and find a way to do as many of those things as possible. When I dragged my feet on the assignment, Daisy gently prodded. She made a list of her own. She coordinated outings to the Shire. She took care of Sam. She saved me from spending the summer hiding under a blanket. I was so grateful for her faith and patience as she eased me out of that dark period.
I wasn't the only one she helped last summer. For the few months she was here, she was called as a ward missionary for the student branch. She didn't know the area, the branch members, or the individuals she was asked to work with, but she threw herself into their service. She did everything in her power to share the gospel. Since that time, several members of the single's branch have moved into my ward. Upon hearing that I am of Frogmorton, each one has asked about Daisy, and expressed their great admiration for her. In one summer, she made an impression. She changed lives.
Yesterday we went to City Park. As we played on the swings and rode the train around the park, we couldn't help but reminisce about a similar outing with Daisy last summer. Her effervescent optimism made every activity fun. We miss her.
Daisy and Sam became great buddies last summer. She was a fun and doting aunt, and he was her eager little shadow. Sam has changed a lot in the last year, and sometimes I'm sad that Daisy isn't here to see her little buddy eagerly shout "Daisy" when he sees her picture. But near or far, I won't let him forget her great example of sacrifice and service.
Of course sacrifice and service are a way of life for a hobbit pioneer. Just as Jesus ministered to the sick and the afflicted, Daisy will spend the better part of the next couple years helping those less fortunate both temporally and spiritually. And when she returns to the USA, it will be more of the same as she cares for the sick and afflicted as a nurse.
We are blessed with many examples of caring and selfless family members, but Daisy Sandybanks of Frogmorton is remarkable in youthful faithfulness and generosity. (She is not entirely remarkable in her shortness. Or her hairy feet.)
I love you, Daisy! Happy birthday!