Roy Exum: I Remember Harriet Deison

Monday, December 31, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I had big plans for an “Auld Lang Syne” story today but, no, in a cruel twist of fate we are staggered to learn that beautiful Harriet Deison, who charmed all of our hearts when her husband Pete served as a longtime assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church, died on Saturday in Dallas. At first the details were sketchy. Now they are not.

According to Dallas police, Harriet walked into a gun store in some strip mall of what is called “Far East Dallas” on Saturday afternoon and bought a firearm. Moments later, a single shot from the parking lot was heard by store employees. When the first police responders arrived about 2:15 p.m., the pretty 65-year-old was found dead, slumped in her automobile.

Police believe that she died of a self-inflicted wound from the gun she had just purchased. The reason I tell this story is because my extended family loved the Deison family very much. For years we worshipped with them, we dined with them, we laughed with them and, yes, we have cried with them when sometimes life seemed to go awry. What great Christians! What fabulous Children of God!

For literally decades Harriet and Pete propped us up, assuring us that by God’s grace a New Dawn was coming – as unstoppable as the New Year itself – and that if only we would place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ things would take a better turn. So help me, that promise has never failed me. (Oh, sometimes God doesn’t show up the moment you call Him but, brother, He’s always right on time!)

Further, as Pete has dedicated his entire life to the counsel and comfort of fellow strugglers, quite often he called on Harriet for her tender help, to which she always responded in such a loving and gentle way that neither anguish or incident stood a chance. Now this … oh my goodness, now this.

The police department said Harriet did not leave a note or a clue. Today there are those who wonder what might have happened if the state of Texas had a waiting period after the purchase of a firearm while others argue she just as easily could have overdosed on drugs or taken her life in many other ways. Did the weapon accidentally discharge? Could she have possibly made a simple yet fatal mistake while trying to handle a strange weapon?

In the great realm we will never know but there is one thing that is for certain – there are too many avenues available to any of us in our race to curb suicide -- if only we will reach out and seek them. As my mother sat and held the card and the note Harriet had just sent at Christmas yesterday, the overwhelming question was why Harriet’s life, after such a gratifying role of endless service to her Lord and Savior, and so many of His children, would end this way?

I am no pastor and apologize for my lack of counseling skills but I know – first hand -- there is still tenderness and caring and warmth in this seemingly cold world. Please ask for it. I’ve heard too many first-hand accounts, read too many books and heard too many wonderful sermons to not believe that help is right around the very first corner. Seek and ye shall find. Oh, it is so true.

My God doesn’t want anyone to suffer. I’ve been in far too many scrapes – remember when I “died” at Mayo Clinic? – not to realize that things will indeed change, always for the better. Mind you, this is coming from a guy who has been there when it couldn’t get worse! My God is a giving God, full of grace and wonder, who can forgive the smallest or biggest sin if only you will invite the Master to take over your life.

Aw, I don’t act like it sometimes and still say things I shouldn’t but if I could offer one last piece of advice to anyone on this last day of the year it would be this: I promise you there is a way out of any mess because God loves you so very much He sent His only begotten Son to guarantee it!

There are many religions in the world – I am fascinated by many – but Christianity is the only one that will accept you unconditionally, right where you are, no questions asked. There are no demands, no gimmicks, initiations, no nothing. All you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and there He will be – free of charge. And, guess what? By doing so you will live forever in Eternity with every person, dog, cat and horse you ever loved.

Pete Deison taught me that. His wife Harriet, in the way she lived and exemplified her life into a role model that hundreds of women have followed, constantly reinforced God’s great Promise and we will always revere her memory … not how she died … but how she lived. I believe she could do anything from arranging flowers to running a big company in Dallas, both of which she did adroitly.

I’m a huge believer in the adage that “if God has allowed this to happen, there is a reason.” I have also found, increasingly in life, that sometimes the reasons and the answers won’t be known until we too leave this very temporary earth to walk among the angels forever and ever. Boy, I’ve got a bunch of questions but because I’ve been blessed to attend church all of my life, I realize none of it will really matter when The Great Day comes. Life on earth is just the journey.

Harriet was only several years older than me but back when I would watch her during Sunday lunch with my grandmother – who was the most Godly woman I have ever known – I kinda’ privately figured Harriet was really an angel. She and my Mammaw would talk and giggle for hours. Harriet was born into wealth in Dallas but you would have never known it because angels are that way.

Now she is dead. We are told it was self-inflicted by the very firearm she had just purchased. But as I await the year ahead, I am quite certain of three things. I am blessed that she and Pete once came my way, that I am certain God doesn’t “sponsor any junk,” and, yes, that I will see Harriet Deison again in a very lovely life.

It has been said, time and time again, that suicide is the only sin God can’t forgive, that if you are dead you can’t ask forgiveness, but now I know my Lord and Savior is bigger than that. There are so many things we will never quite understand but, in heaven, we will finally know. I know Harriet Deison will be there.

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: Our Insult To Israel

I am deeply saddened that over two dozen members of Congress – all Democrats – will be boycotting a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, when he speaks in Washington tonight. I am also offended that the President of the United States will not receive Netanyahu prior to the speech – a customary gesture on such occasions – because he claims it is too close to ... (click for more)

Remembering Dr. Jack Willke - And Response

When I first became active as a Right-to-Life leader in 1975, Dr. Jack Willke (and his wife, Barbara) were the preeminent leaders at the National level.  Rarely did you see one without the other. They literally wrote the book used by Pro-Life activists everywhere, The Handbook on Abortion . I carried it everywhere and studied it over and over. Their books sold ... (click for more)

Winter Weather Advisory Goes Into Effect At 4 A.M. On Thursday

Temperatures were mild on Wednesday, but they were set to drop as the day goes on - leading to a winter weather advisory. The advisory goes into effect at 4 a.m. on Thursday and is to continue until 4 p.m. The forecast is for freezing rain, sleet and snow with accumulations of two inches or less. Some events are already being called off due to the possibility of unsafe ... (click for more)

County Commission Votes 5-4 In Favor of Middle Valley Neighborhood Walmart

The County Commission on Wednesday voted 5-4 to allow a Walmart Neighborhood Center at Middle Valley Road and Thrasher Pike. Voting in favor were Jim Fields, Chester Bankston, Greg Beck, Warren Mackey and Joe Graham. Opposed were Marty Haynes, Sabrena Smedley, Tim Boyd and Randy Fairbanks. Commissioner Haynes, the District 3 representative where the project is located, ... (click for more)

Double Overtime Thriller: Central Boys Going To State

For all the folks who came to Chattanooga State Tuesday night for the Class AA sectional battle between Livingston Academy and Region 3-AA champ Central, they got their money's worth and more. And they even got some free basketball to boot. Needing a couple of overtimes, the Purple Pounders will be heading to Murfreesboro and MTSU's Murphy Center next week for the TSSAA State ... (click for more)

Blackman Blazes A Trail To State By Bashing Bradley, 55-35

(Story will be updated) MUFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Class AAA state champions are still alive and well. Blackman raced past outmanned Bradley Central, 55-35, Tuesday night in a Class AAA sectional victory that blazed a path right to the boys state tournament at nearby Middle Tennessee State University starting on March 11. The Blaze (24-5) will be making their fourth ... (click for more)