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.

The lilacs are blooming again at 4121 Pontiac Trail in Orchard Lake, Mich., just as they were one year ago on Mother’s Day. This was the day my mother-in-law died.  Natalie Wolff McIntyre had spent her last day in and out of consciousness; when conscious, she was so very present. I was with her husband, Bruce, and their children when she left us at 12:05 a.m. We were all certain that she chose to leave on Mother’s Day so that we would have this special time each year — to remember what had been her life’s work, the work of the mother. Mother’s Day will always be Natalie’s day to us.

My husband still weeps at unexpected times. Holidays are hard because there were always special rituals with this family. Easter was especially difficult, since this was an important spiritual day each year in Natalie’s life. The maternal anchor chain has been severed and the McIntyre family has been drifting some since.

Every day for 25 years, Bruce sat in the breakfast nook with Natalie at the house in Orchard Lake. They shared a passion for politics and civic life, a passion for family and friends, and there were always cats and usually a dog wandering around, cats climbing the rafters in the kitchen and being generally entertaining. There were birds to watch at the feeder just outside the window and an unending series of amusing wildlife to encounter morning after morning as coffee and conversation progressed.

Bruce has visited us in New York twice, and his time with us has given us incredible joy. But he can’t stay long. He needs his private time. We understand that he is slowly finding his way. He visits and works with friends from his days in the newspaper world, goes to seminars on espionage, has taken a cruise, sits on the city council, and spends time with his daughters and their families, who live close by.

Bruce has a new routine, one that he never shared with Natalie. He now has breakfast with friends at a local diner every day. He has full days out in the community, but then he does come home. The cats are there and this week the lilacs are blooming. The boat went out onto the lake this weekend as it always does. Bruce loves his home and is making his life work again.

Natalie gave her son the portrait painted of her at 25, when she pregnant with him. The portrait is in an oval frame and is over 50 years old. This portrait is in my consultation room and greets me each day as I begin the work that I am here to do. This week I will fill my office with lilacs, lilacs for memory.

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Emily McIntyre Hancook May 7, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Thank you Pat! It’s a beautiful tribute –