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

The road trip home was on the last day of 2007. It was still 1,300 miles on the way back. Friends think the husband and I were mad to make this 2,600-mile round trip odyssey. Teamwork, not always perfect, is the foundation of our relationship.

It held up well with shared driving and easy camaraderie — both coming and going. Think Humphrey Bogart and Kate Hepburn in “The African Queen,” or “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” We always have each other’s back

Odd, I find, that marriage ever survives not only the temperamental differences of the two, but the forces of opinion that whisper to the partners that this is, or that is, just too, too much. How can the outside ever know what commitment means?

We used part of the time on this journey to make important calls to those closest to us. We found everyone at home early in the day when we were leaving Virginia, heading home on the last leg of the trip.

My mother is almost 89 and is reworking her memoir that she self-publishes and sells at $30 a pop, thank you very much. She talked me into editing the next edition with the line, “I know that you are a real writer now. I read that women’s blog.” Then, the long knife … “But Patty, do you think all that sex stuff is something you should be writing about?”

“Don’t start Mama,” I responded. “You are the one who had six children, I only had two.”

Giggles and giggles. I want to have my mother’s determination and creativity when I am her age. She was a school teacher and voracious reader. Then taken from her highly functioning life by a massive right frontal lobe stroke five years ago, she clawed her way back into the world, managed to write her memoir, publish various editions, and shame the book industry who constantly decry the death of publishing. What a girl.

My parents-in-law were both at home in spite of their usual busy schedule. My husband has an unusually close bond to his parents, speaking to them almost every day. This New Year’s Eve, Nana and PopPop were very interested in the lives of their two grandsons. We are blessed to have their support and love in the extended family’s care of these two young men who are poised on the edge of adult life and need this kind of generosity and wisdom, especially from grandparents who have more unconditional love than one can imagine.

I spoke to my eldest son for such a long time. He is now positively parental with me in the sweetest possible way. He wanted me to know that perhaps it was now time for me to stop fixing things for my grown up children. The endearing part was that he said he knew how much that I loved them, but it was now time to let go.

My younger son had plans for the night with the GF and friends. He has become such a generous and accomplished man. We share our love of our profession and the healing arts. We communicate much more directly now with this special medical language. It gives us a bond that might have been lost otherwise.

Hours in the car gave us the time we needed to close out this year’s ledger and contemplate our New Year resolutions, something we have rarely done. We revisited 2007 and let the worries and unsolvable problems of this year go. And, we celebrated our successes, some small, others significant.

People have strong opinions about this New Year’s resolution thing. We asked ourselves: Is this superstitious behavior? Does it serve any useful purpose? Does making too many resolutions dilute the intensity of purpose? For us, on the eve of 2008, we were ready to be serious about talking it out and writing it down.

These are my resolutions for the New Year:

Resolved: I will let the worries go before year’s end. I am a great one for holding on to worries, nurturing them with undeserved attention. This tendency to worry about all the little things becomes poison to the soul. Worry won’t change the outcome. It will deface the beauty of the present.

Resolved: I will worship at my parish church on a regular basis. Faith is a part of my daily life but I haven’t given expression to this faith by participating in the community of our Episcopal Church this year. Something always came up, or I was just too tired. I am uplifted by the beauty of the liturgy and music and spiritually transformed for these moments by the message and peace of the Episcopal service.

Resolved: I will write daily. It is as an exercise for thinking in a clearer way and for finding a way to set priorities. When I write, I must choose from my over-stuffed mind a subject that demands attention from me. This will give me the opportunity to contemplate the past and to give expression to the narrative of the work that I do and the life I live. Writing forces me to consider ideas and plans that might otherwise be lost in the chaos of daily living.

Resolved: I will honor my sons’ request to listen to their epic poems of survival, but give no unsolicited warnings from the mother who has made this part of the journey and knows from experience where the sharp rocks are, just beneath the surface of the water, all too ready to puncture and sink their life boats. It is their Homeric journey and I will wait to hear of the adventures and experiences they have had when they join me to tell the tale.

Resolved: I will use the 60th birthday as reason enough to focus for the rest of my life on that which I believe to be important. This means saying no to toxic people, to giving my best to my work, to loving those in my life with exuberance unimaginable.

Happy New Year to each of you who have supported the first year of WomensVoicesForChange.org.

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  • lucinda January 1, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    i don’t know or question the cosmic reasons for one individual being so multi talented on so many levels but i thank all the lucky stars above for the combo and for the women you are, dr pat—on behalf of all those that have gone before me and will come after me i know we have been touched by a very special force that is part angel,part wizard and all heart- happiest new year

    Reply
  • Adrian Miller January 1, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I have taken this post and sent it on to all of my friends struggling with many of the issues Pat wrote about so eloquently. Wow. Pat, I always knew you were the best Doctor imaginable; I didn’t know that prose was one of your skills as well.

    Reply