Saturday, April 16, 2011


To some he was JohnUnderwood, to many he was Harold, to a few he was Daddy or Pops, but to me, he was Grandaddy.

My granddaddy had a sense of humor. He had me convinced that you had to deflate the air in your tires to go from winter air to summer air. If I was blocking his view of something, he told me I must have been drinking too much mud. And for years I worried about this ailment that plagued him whenever he just wanted to sit and rest. He had this darn “bone in his leg.”

When I was little, I had so much fun going to his office supply store, Sikes, and banging away on the cash register (although I don’t think he particularly liked that). He taught his children, who consequently taught me, the importance of orderly and stocked shelves, the ability to pack just about anything with the best use of space, and the value of hard work and making an honest living.

Grandaddy worked hard and took pride in what he did. He even mowed the lawn on his tractor wearing a crisp white button down shirt. For the longest time, he would buy each of his granddaughters a new dress for Easter -- the frillier the better. I think he loved having a house full of people. We would have easter egg hunts in his yard, pool parties in the summer, and piles of presents at Christmas. His mantle eventually got too short to hold a stocking with every person’s name on it. And you could guarantee that you would get a big fat orange and lots of walnuts at the bottom of every stocking. As a kid, there was hardly anything less fun than an orange and some nuts, but that was Grandaddy sharing some of his southern childhood with us.

I’m proud of having a southern grandaddy because I was taught the right way to drink coca-cola: with peanuts. I know not to put sugar in cornbread, that collards will make you strong, and to have a healthy dose of suspicion if you go to Cracker Barrel and the cook is a Yankee.

But as you might imagine because you knew him too, my grandpa is so much more than this. To know Grandaddy is to know his love for Grandma. Not only was he by her side every day of her illness, he longed to see her again every day for fifteen years. Just last week he reminded me he married “the most beautiful girl in the world,” an “angel in the church choir.” His is a love story we don’t see much anymore. He shows us that love really can be eternal.

To know Grandaddy is to know his love for the church. In looking at pictures, I saw a stained glass window and a white church and learned that the pew inside is where he first put his faith in Christ. Grandaddy his given me so much, but his greatest gift is giving me a spiritual legacy. His house has always been filled with the redemptive sounds of gospel music. I think he bought rows of tickets for every show that First Baptist Church of Orlando ever put on for the Singing Christmas Trees and Easter presentations. Faith and music seemed very important to him. It’s no wonder he married  the prettiest girl in the church choir!

To know Grandaddy is to know his love for family. He used to sing to me “A, you’re adorable, B, you’re so beautiful, C, you’re as cute as cute can be...” Only recently did I learn that he didn’t sing that just for me :) He loved all of his girls--daughters and granddaughters. He let us know we were beautiful and taught us the type of man we should wait for: one who would love us, provide for us, protect us. He reminded us never to settle. He loved his son and grandsons. I remember him teasing the boys mercilessly by calling them “girls,” but I think in his own way he was showing them how to be tough, how to fight back, and how to defend. In some way, we have all been shaped by what he taught us.

To know Grandaddy is to know his love for his Savior. I never once heard him grumble against the Lord when life got tough. Honestly from my perspective, it always seemed like he treated it as a blessing to get to care for Grandma and spend so much time with her. I’m sure he would have preferred a different story to have been written, but he responded with diligence and integrity to the circumstances God gave him. He spoke often of “the pearly gates” and rightly reminded us that this world is not his home.

On the day Grandaddy died, I had the honor of reading Psalm 84. The text describes that one day in the presence the Lord in Heaven is better than a thousand days anywhere else.That’s a little hard for me because selfishly I wish the Lord would give me a thousand more days with him...or even one more day. But my great hope--our great hope--is that today is not goodbye. In one week, we will celebrate that Christ conquered death. He faced death alone so that those of us who trust in Him, would never have to. Even in his last breath, Grandaddy was never alone. He went from Jesus by his side to Jesus face to face.


The final verse of Psalm 84 states “Blessed is the man who trusts in You.” Grandaddy wasn’t perfect. In fact, he had a lot of flaws. But the funny thing about God is that He doesn’t want the people who have their act together. He wants the people who know they are flawed and yet put their trust in Him -- not in themselves, not in their accomplishments, not even in their family legacy. Our great hope is Jesus Christ. His love is deeper, stronger, and wider than we can even imagine. And one day, we will see Grandaddy, Grandma, and Jesus--face to face.

I love you, Grandaddy.
December 8, 1921 - April 12, 2011

Eulogy given in honor of John Harold Underwood, Sr. on April 16, 2011


drh said...

Karin, thanks for sharing this. I never knew your grandfather, but I sort of feel like I knew him after reading this. Good job.

~Praying Through Life~ said...

Beautiful, Karin...

Russ Licht said...

Karin, your words brought your grandaddy out in living color for the rest of us to enjoy. Now you've got me wishing I could have met him too, but I will some day.

orangejack said...

Sorry to hear about your Granddaddy's transition. Reminds me of my Granddad's. It's tough to watch, tough to live, and the hole is never filled by another person. Thanks for sharing.

Un Till said...

Karin, this was beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Doug L said...

Karin you inspired me to be a great grandfather to my grandkids.