This Ain’t Fiction

        A favorite patient of mine passed away this week.  She had been frail since childhood, but she would tell you right quick she wasn’t a victim of nothing.

       She overcame adversity in such a heroic way.  She was right.  She was no victim.  Everyone went to her for advice along the way, including me.  I did very little for her other than visit and treat her allergies.  I learned more from her than she ever did from me.  

        Everyone trusted her.  She was the only woman in the County besides my mama and my daughter who my wife would let me kiss.  She was confined to bed the last few years.  When I came out for a house call, I often began the visit with a kiss on her forehead.  

       In physician fiction, you have to change all the names and clinical circumstances to protect folk’s privacy.  I always do that.  However I do have her blessings, in fact her request, to let you know she was the lady who inspired Mason Marley in my book.  As a Doctor I got to know some remarkable people and she was at the top of my list; one of the most inspiring human beings I ever met.

          She is one of the few folks on earth who has read the entire manuscript.  I am so glad she could read it before she was gone.

        Just a few months ago, we had a long discussion about privacy.  I told her as a Doc I could never tell who inspired Mason Marley, and would honor that forever.  She said, “Oh Tommy, it’s O.K.  I hope you tell the whole world.”  I hope in some small way my story will immortalize her.  Her soul will live forever, but I want people to know of her human spirit too, even though my day job rightly demands I fictionalize it.

        God rest your soul Mason Marley.  You were a hero.

Dr. B

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11 Comments on “This Ain’t Fiction”

  1. Karen Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Dr. B. As much as it’s a part of your job, I’m sure your heart hurts the same as anyone else who loses someone special. And what a lovely lady she must have been. I’m so glad you’ve been able to immortalise her (or parts of her at least!) through Mason Marley. (I thought some of your description sounded familiar…) It sounds like you did her an honour in the twilight of her life. What a precious gift that must have been to her. Take care, Dr. B.

  2. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Sorry to see her go, Tommy. The real people who inspire the sources for our fiction become even realer as we discover them in writing. It’s another example of not knowing what we know until we either write it or say it. Your friend “WAS” Mason Marley, and perhaps in your case, she began identify herself as Mason Marley, too. Must have been quite a lady. – Ted

  3. drtombibey Says:

    Ted and Karen,

    Guys, this one hurt a lot.

    In her situation, she had to rely on a vivid imagination to keep going. She was a great inspiration.

    She would read of the adventures of Mason Marley with great glee, and further embellished the early versions with much enthusiasm. She told me she looked forward to my installments so much it reminded her of the anticipation as a child of the Saturday Evening Post due in the mailbox.

    I have played a lot of shows and written a lot of stories in my time, all in hopes of brightening someone’s day, but I never got more happiness than from her responses to my efforts.

    Someday I am going to give her more formal credit. Right now I can’t decide how to say it.

    Dr. B

  4. rekx Says:

    I am sorry to hear about your loss Dr. B. Sounds like she was a real gift to your life.

  5. drtombibey Says:


    She was a true gift to all of us. She may have been the best read person I ever knew. Folks like State Senators would come around to get her advice. When she spoke we all paid attention.

    Dr. B

  6. Oh, Dr. B, I’m so sorry… She sounds like an incredible woman, a strong character and good soul. The fact that she inspired you is proof enough of that. I will remember when I read your book that somewhere there was a real lady much like Mason Marley, and I will remember that she was special.
    I can understand how one would be inspired by her – you say she always said she wasn’t a victim. This is incredible. So many of us feel victimized for silly, every day things, feel wronged somehow, or cheated. But she, at her age and with a lifetime of experience, didn’t see herself that way as you said. She was an admirable person, this is clear, and I’m glad you’ve been able to immortalize her the way you have.

  7. drtombibey Says:


    One of my purposes with my story was to let folks know of the spirit of my favorite folks. I learned so much from people like Indie and Mason. They were so special I thought the rest of the world deserved a chance to know them too.

    Mason was a “disabled” and downright frail elderly woman, and yet she was the strongest person I knew. I appreciate athletic and physical ability, but Mason showed us all how a well developed mind and spirit and the desire to search for the truth can trump brute force in complicated human confrontations.

    Those who were calculating and devious were no match for Mason Marley.

    Dr. B

  8. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Ooof, Doc. I’m sorry. Anticipating, as I am, my own loss, I’m keenly feeling yours. Hugs.

  9. drtombibey Says:


    When I went to the funeral I thought about you. Nothing easy about being human. Peace and all the best to you and yours in this time.

    Dr. B

  10. Cindy Carter Says:

    Dr B….

    Sounds like this person truly affected your life in the time that you knew her. You were blessed to know such a special person.

    Our lives are shaped by the people we know. You have known some really great people.

  11. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Cindy,

    The woman had been confined to home for many many years, but the Church house was packed. She touched many. Someday I might tell more about her. She gave her blessings to do so.

    Dr. B

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