Lonesome Road Blues

        I was out of town last night.  On the drive back home my truck overheated.  I was lucky; I was on the outskirts of a small town where my brother-in law lived, and I knew a convenience store was just around the bend.  I pulled over before it red-lined and went inside to give him a call.

       “You Dr. Tommy?” the clerk asked.

        “Yes ma’am.”

         “You check my Daddy one time at Harvey Hospital.  You have trouble?”

        “Yes ma’am.  Overheated.”

        “I give you ride?”

        “Oh it’s O.K.  Matt’ll be here in a minute.  Appreciate it, though.”

        I went back out to the truck and put up the hood.  My mandolin was in the third seat.  I got it out and took it inside.  “How ’bout the Lonesome Road Blues?”  I played it and a few other tunes for the customers while I waited.

         Matt was there directly.  “Let’s go get a pizza and let her cool off.”

        “Yeah boy.  I don’t want to wind up in the burn unit tonight if I can avoid it.”

        I checked with the clerk.  “O.K. if I leave the truck here for a while?”

       “No problem, Mr. Tommy.”

       Matt brought several gallon jugs of water in his trunk.  When we got back we filled up the radiator and cranked it back up.  “Whadda you think Matt?”

        “Oil’s O.K.  Water pump ain’t leaking.  Hoses are dry.  I’ll bet it’s the radiator.  These new plastic composite ones ain’t worth a damn.  The old copper ones were much better.”

        I laughed.  “I’ll bet my buddy Otis Campbell would agree with that!”

        By then my son had arrived, and offered to take me home.  We thought most likely a slow leak had snuck up on me, so we decided to limp it to the house.  Tommy Jr. followed me just in case.  He is a good boy to worry over the old man so.

         When I was young the circumstances might have worried me, but to be honest it doesn’t anymore.  My ‘new’ old truck is only worth four or five grand.  (My Scout made it a quarter million miles.)  I am very fortunate; if it died tomorrow I could leave it on the side of the road and get another one about like it. 

         For all I know when I get to work today one of my favorite patients with show up with some dreadful cancer no one can do anything about.  I’ll save my worries for them.  If it happens, I’ll go to my study, try not to cry too hard, pick out the blues on my office mandolin for a moment, and then go to the next exam room and try to carry on.  

        But at this stage of my life I refuse to worry over a bucket of bolts.  It’s like the bluegrass crowd says, “It’s just a thing.”  They’re right.  Things are just things.  They ain’t people and that’s what counts.  I am fortunate in that I am surrounded by good ones who always come to my rescue. 

        The ‘Lonesome Road Blues’ didn’t last but a minute.  For that matter a new lick came to me when I sat down with tune.  I reckon it was the reward of a suffering artist, even if the suffering was but brief.  It’s a wonder I can play the blues at all; for the most part I have led a charmed life.

Dr. B

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10 Comments on “Lonesome Road Blues”

  1. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I often wonder how much of our “charmed lives” are truly charmed and how much of it is of our own making. Some of us vibrate at a particular frequency, and we draw others to us who harmonize quite nicely. I honestly believe that you get what you give, Doc, so don’t be too quick to assume that it’s all luck.

  2. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B,

    You have your head in the right place, as my grandma would say. You don’t need to spend too much time worrying over things. Because that is what they are things. A lot of people don’t understand that concept. They think that “the one with the most wins”. What they don’t realize is that “the most” has nothing to do with physical things.

    Having not grown up in “white bread middle class America”, I never had many “things”. And, you know what, I didn’t miss them or covet them. I had some pretty good role models that showed me how to have so much more….. If you know what I mean.

  3. drtombibey Says:


    It is hard for me to know why and how it worked out like it did, but I do know I have been blessed with a good family and a bunch of friends, and I am thankful for all of them.

    Dr. B

  4. drtombibey Says:

    ms newt 221,

    I suspect your grandma was one heck of a fine lady, and a major influence as to what kind of person you are today.

    Dr. B

  5. Ah, Dr. B, I agree you should save your blues for important things like patients, but you know things aren’t just things. Maybe a truck is just a truck [though doesn’t that truck raise so many memories in you of the countless trips you’ve taken with it and how it’s stood by you all this time?] but you know things aren’t just things. Marfar’s sunglasses – they ain’t just a thing, they’ve got their own personality in a way, right?
    I agree, though, that to waste your worries and emotions on things isn’t always what we should be doing, but we can’t help it sometimes. Our things become a part of us in many ways.

  6. drtombibey Says:


    You are a very cool and wise young lady. Sometimes things do take on a personality. Years ago on my 45th birthday my wife gave the mandolin I play every day.

    It is not a collector’s item, and would not mean near as much to anyone else, but if something happened to it I’d cry like a baby.

    Dr. B

  7. Martin Waddell Says:

    I can only admire your attitude, Dr B. Wish I could say the same as you. But I find that, these days, people like me are so dependent on “things” that, when they go wrong, the blood pressure starts shooting up. It may be my car which suddenly starts losing oil, or (far more likely) my PC or my broadband connection goes kaput. When that happens, I have this terrible temptation to start panicking. I’m going to re-read your wise words over and over again, in the hope that, by God’s good grace, I’ll learn better!

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Mr. Waddell,

    Thanks for your visit.

    Something gets to all of us. For me it is when a couple of pesky neighborhood dogs pee on my morning paper. So far I have resisted the urge to whop them on the backside with it. Some days I am tempted though.

    Computers can be a pest too. I got better when I found an ace man in town who could diagnose and treat mine in a cost effective manner, but they still bug me at times.

    Dr. B

  9. Karen Says:

    Dr. B, I say whop those dogs 🙂 I got a giggle just imagining the scene…

    As for not letting things get to you, I honestly believe it is a skill that comes more naturally to some, but can be learnt by everyone. All of us have a pre-recorded soundtrack to our lives, running through our heads every single moment. That sound track is a combination of what our parents said, our genetic pre-disposition, what teachers and coaches said, and conclusions (often wrong ones!) that we came to (about how the world works and why things happen) throughout our childhood. Most people don’t listen to their soundtrack. Heck, a lot of people don’t even know they have one! But when we take the time to tune in to that subconscious ‘self-talk’ that jibbers away like static in the background, we start to learn what we say to ourselves when things go haywire. And once we’re tuned in to our self-talk, then we have an opportunity to change it if it’s not helpful or just plain wrong. Just because a child’s Daddy used to call him stupid, doesn’t mean he is – but that soundtrack is very likely to be continuing unchecked unless that person makes a conscious effort to dispute it. And when we change our self-destructive, self-defeating self-talk into the most realistic yet optimistic version possible, an amazing thing happens – we feel differently.

    Sorry to rant on, Dr. B, but you touched on one of my passions – optimistic thinking skills. (I run a very small business teaching parents and teachers how to help develop these very skills in kids.) After growing up with a father who suffered severe depression and being married to someone very similar for the last 13 years, I’m absolute committed to being as proactive as possible in this area. If I can help one child get the skills to navigate life and avoid the suffering my dad and husband have gone through, then I’ll be delighted.

    Dr Martin Seligman was the pioneer of optimistic thinking skills and has spent years researching the impact teaching these skills can have. From the extensive research he and his team have done, in doctor terms, optimistic thinking skills can help immunise a person against depression. It might not prevent them being depressed, but they are less likely to have severe depression and more likely to recover quickly. “Learned Optimism” is a great book by Seligman, as is “The Optimistic Child”. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now… 🙂

    (If anyone is interested in knowing more, feel free to come and pay me a visit at my blog, http://karencollum.wordpress.com If you go to the heading TAGS on the right-hand side of the page and click on ‘optimistic thinking skills’ you can see some blogs I’ve written on the topic.)

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Karen,

    These are some excellent thoughts. I’ve always had an outlet with my music, but writing has helped me take it to another level.

    If someone makes me mad before I decide what I need to do I write a story about it. Usually by the time I finish I am laughing so hard I have forgotten what I was mad about.

    Come to think of it, I think those dogs do need a whop on the backside with a newspaper. Next time I see ’em I’m gonna give ’em a gentle reminder and let them know folks from as far away as Australia do not approve of their behavior.

    Dr. B

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