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.
Nothing has changed in my consultation room since I began the practice of solo obstetrics and gynecology there in July, 1983. I was in my second year of private practice, I had a 4 day old son, and I was working away. The room is my favorite color, yellow (always with some red somewhere). Right now the drapes are heavy silk damask, the same yellow as the walls. The chairs and the desk are the same that I began work with in 1983. I just reupholster the chairs every 5 years: Same colors, different pattern. Currently the chairs are cream-colored, with a stylized rose on the seat and the back of the chairs.Just to the right of my desk there is a painting of my family’s Canadian house, with its gardens and pool. My mother, famous for her “if I see it I will paint it on the canvas just as it is” hyper-realism school of painting, created a visual memory of that special house and gardens that holds me in its vise of memories each time I look at it.

We always opened the house for the summer season in Quebec on Memorial Day weekend.  Today I have been remembering Memorial Day weekend as it once was.

It would begin with a seven-hour trek from New York City, our 1985 Ford Taurus (the SUV of the moment)  filled inside and on top with provisions not available in the village of Knowlton. Two squirming boys, with their black standard poodle that vomited unless medicated before entering the car, rounded out this traveling madhouse. In retrospect I am certain that Barkley the poodle was the only sane creature in the car. Of course he would vomit. Who wouldn’t? Seven hours of “are we there yet?” and” DO NOT CROSS THIS LINE OR I WILL PUNCH YOUR EYES OUT” were hard to live through. My secret for surviving those 7 hours? I flew. I was not nuts. Every trek north, I left the morning after the land crew had departed after midnight, meeting the totally distraught husband and psychotic children at the airport in Burlington for the one and half hour drive north to our Canadian home. I did hate the ever-present turbulence as the small commuter plane descended into the airport in Burlington, and made sure that everyone knew that I had really, really suffered. But I was fresh and ready to do the work that would make the summer fun.

This weekend all these years later, my first-born son graduated from Pace Law School. He’d graduated cum laude and earned the Adolf Homburger Humanitarian Award. It was all just perfect. His father and stepmother were there from their home in a small southern city and we had some very civilized time together

This entire week the painting of the Canadian house has caught my eye more than usual. I have been reminded of other days when this father carried the burden of irksome tasks while I flew in for the fun. I wonder if my mother hid some remorse in the painting just underneath the roses.

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  • Adrian Miller June 2, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I am just now catching up on Dr. Pat’s many posts, having determined that this “non-business” related reading was something that I would need to eliminate so that I could squeeze just a few more mission-critical minutes into my day. What a mistake. Dr. Pat’s posts make me smile, reflect and pause…if but for an instant…to count my blessings (my 2 beautiful sons that she delivered many years ago) and this perhaps, is the most important time of my day. Thanks Pat. You’re now a must-read every day.