Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Mother’s Day is hard this year.  My cherished mother in law, Natalie, died on Mother’s Day in 2008, this is the week of Mommie’s birthday and my first Mother’s Day without her.

I did manage better than I had anticipated  because of a talk I had with the minister of Mommie’s church on Thursday, when  I was given a gift of some insight. I knew after that call that I could turn grief into action, that I could learn to manage my memories in a positive way on this day that honors mothers.

Mommie was a devout Christian, sprung from a long line of ministers, missionaries, and teachers. Church attendance was an expected and anticipated part of the week. During the sixteen years that Mommie lived in New York with our family, she returned regularly to her home in Columbia and to her church family. She enjoyed staying in touch with so many people by writing letters to them and always wrote to the ministers who led this church when she lived away from her home.

The current minister of Mommie’s church said to me on Thursday that no one was a more enthusiastic member of the congregation. “She was always in church and participated in Bible study in a knowledgeable way right up to her death at 93. Miss Edna knew how to be entertaining and she loved the companionship of friends of decades at the monthly “Young at Heart” events for those over 70.”

Mommie’s favorite annual event was Mother-Daughter Night, always on the Thursday before Mother’s Day. I was invited every year, but never made it. Mommie reminded me when my sisters were unavailable that she “had to adopt a daughter” for that night, but “Never mind.” Well, she did mind, and I did know it. I have a picture on my office desk—turned so only I can see it—of Mommie and my sister at last year’s Mother- Daughter Night. I know my sister must treasure this memory.

This past Thursday, when the Mother Daughter dinner took place, the minister announced that Miss Edna had underwritten the Young at Heart Program for the next two years. These monthly events often include dinner and entertainment at the church, with time for socializing. The church provides transportation, and the staff and other younger members of the church make it festive and memorable each month. I know how much these nights out mean to those who may be isolated in ways that Mommie was not. Each of us has our place in the life of our family of origin. In our family we all had a different but equal relationship with our mother. We were so lucky that Mommie allowed us to give what we had and that she knew and was grateful for what each of us gave her. So, on Thursday night, I did what I could: I made this a night she would have loved.


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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. July 17, 2013 at 12:23 am

    You know how much Mommie loved you and all the men in her life! We were both so lucky to have had wonderful mothers.
    Thanks for reading.

    Mommie would have loved your amazing retreat in Costa Rica. I can only imagine how relaxing it must be.


  • Adam Dolle July 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Pat–I just read your Mother’s Day remarks about Edna. It brought back so many, many fond memories. I loved Edna and always felt her warmth–it was so natural and real. I also remember how she so plainly spoke her mind. Loved the ‘plain spoken’ as much as the ‘nurturing’ Edna–especially when I wasn’t the object of her unvarnished opinion. wish I could have just one more of her fried chicken dinners with her!–xo AD

  • Roz Warren May 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

    What a lovely tribute. I’m sure she’d be proud.

  • Toni Myers May 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Dr. Pat,
    That you call her “Mommie” speaks to a warm and loving relationship. A moving remembrance.

  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson May 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    lovely story about your mom and hats. good memories help us through the tough times, like this first year without your mom.

  • Toni Hoar May 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Your mother was a wonderful woman . Full of life and love and an endless doer and giver. No better tribute to her than that. Spirit inspired! Happy mother day to you who delivered my two wonderful children! Xxoo T

  • Ruth Woodie May 12, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Pat, your Mom was an amazing woman who raised amazing children. Such a beautiful tribute to her. Happy Mother’s Day to you!!!! LY

  • Karen Royce May 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Happy Mother’s Day Patricia. What a thoughtful and loving piece, and a beautiful description of a life of fatih and the community it offers. Thank you.

  • mona May 12, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Thank you Pat for sharing your Mother. She sounds very special. She is proud of you.