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.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD | bio

I remember the day as though it were yesterday. The mail bundle seemed innocuous enough. The usual advertising circulars, a few bills, an invitation to a charity event. I was lulled into a feeling of business-as-usual when I opened the large envelope.

Terror struck almost immediately. There must have been a mistake, I thought, as I read and re-read the letter inside. But, no.

It was December, my birthday month; 49 was approaching. I love my birthdays and have always felt that I have earned these age days. I looked great, had a hunky husband, full-time fabulous work, two wonderful sons, lots of passions and friends. How could I have been targeted for this cruel trick?

The letter was addressed to me, but the salutation was off: “Dear Mrs. Yarberry Allen.” There was no such person. There was a Mrs. Douglas McIntyre; in the schizophrenic world of professional branding, I had kept Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen as my permanently owned professional moniker.

Then I read on. I had been inducted without receiving a draft number into the dreaded AARP.

I was given no choice. There was no box to check to decline this kind offer of political solidarity. I was now part of a group lobbying Congress and all political hopefuls to represent my retired interests and the benefits of bulk buying for health insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, death benefits insurance and automobile insurance (if one were not too infirm to drive).

There were also wonderful travel opportunities to share adventures with other retired persons. Cruises and eating. Buses overcrowded with the noisy and nosey.

American Association of Retired Persons, indeed. I was working at least 60 hours a week. I was damned if I would be thrown into this group simply because of a suddenly ominous birthday.

I did what I assume any intelligent, self-respecting employed almost-49-year-old would do. I tore the card up. I put it into an envelope with a brief note: I am returning your card. I am not retired. I will never retire.

I am now in the December countdown for the glorious 60th birthday. I am still Mrs. Douglas McIntyre, he of the hunky state, still mother of two even more wonderful sons and a delicious daughter-in-law. I still work 60 hours a week. My life is filled with passions, new and old, friends and opportunities.

I spend countless hours with my best friends, the board of Women’s Voices for Change, and our contributors, in person and online. I could never have imagined at 48 that life at 60 would be so full and joyful.

I have a suggestion for AARP if they want to become really successful, not just powerful in numbers and demographics: Keep the initials, but change the words that the initials stand for. Enter the 21st century — make it the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF REINVENTED PERSONS.

Then I will join gladly and become a standard bearer for all that is possible.

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  • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger December 4, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Great insights into natural responses to being herded. Though they do good work I don’t want to be profiled, either. Okay — but here’s a good thing. Two years til you get cheap seats at the movies! Elizabeth

  • Andrea Williams December 4, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Oh this is rich! not just in humor but in acknowledging the endless passions and possibilities available to all of us. I coach midlife women in what I’ve called “creative reinvention.” Never, in eight years of coaching, have I spoken with a woman who considered or looked forward to “retiring” or slowing down.