Refuse to Let the ‘Old Lady’ In

By Donna Cordello

“Return to sender.”

That’s what I write on the influx of mail I’ve been getting trying to convince me that now that I’m 65, I’m officially a ‘senior citizen.’

Umm, no.

I’ll go with being called a mature woman or even politely smile when called ‘ma’am.’ But, I’m not conceding to being a senior citizen when I feel like, in so many ways, I just got here. Besides, in my youthful mind and as long as I don’t concentrate on the lady in the mirror (or my aching joints) I refuse to let the old lady in.

I’m still learning. For example, I never knew I’d have to practice the alphabet again until I had to decipher the ABC’s of Medicare. To be honest, the first time was a lot easier.

I’m still growing, albeit sideways.

Even the lockdowns and isolation couldn’t keep me grounded because since I retired right before the pandemic, I’ve gone to Alaska and been up close with bears and glaciers. I’ve hiked through rain forests and discovered amazing birds and insects. I had a VIP tour of the Vatican. I’ve been to dozens of monuments and visited countless countries.

Yet, I didn’t get jet-lagged, didn’t have to take any shots for malaria, never packed and didn’t have to check hotels for bed bugs. In my PJs and from the comfort of my couch, the travel and discovery channels have taken me across the globe. I now consider myself a world traveler. I just don’t always share the tiny little tidbits with everyone.

While offers from AARP and life insurance companies continue to overflow my mailbox, I’ve discovered that a lot of things are actually better now than when I was a senior in high school.

I’ve gotten to know my doctors. We’re practically on a first name basis. And I never realized I had so many. They literally have covered me from head to toe. I consider myself lucky, because this never would have happened in my earlier years.

There are other perks of being older, as well. Like paying less for concert tickets. I used to fight to get to the front of the stage to be up close to the long-haired musicians I had crushes on. But, now I’d rather sit in the cheaper seats in the back and listen to those old bald band members than actually see them.

Of course, I’ve also changed physically, too. I still have long hair, and thanks to my hair stylist, it’s the same color it always was. I can even still fit into some things that I wore 40 years ago, like the earrings and hat I rocked on my wedding day.

‘You can’t convince me I’m old when I still blast my radio when I’m driving, although it might be because I’m going a tad deaf.’

You can’t convince me I’m old when I still blast my radio when I’m driving, although it might be because I’m going a tad deaf.

And even my marriage is better than ever. My husband and I don’t argue anymore because we’re both too tired to fight. In fact, our biggest disagreement is about who snores the loudest!

See, it’s all how you look at things. Some people might not consider dressing as exercise. But to me, it’s a form of yoga. Balancing to put on my pants and socks without toppling over really does require a great amount of coordination. So I can honestly say, I start off each day with my own rigorous exercise routine.

My friends and I still enjoy each other and get together. And when we crack up laughing, we pee a little, too. Now, some might consider this is a sure sign of aging, but I think of it as multitasking.

Even all the things that used to make me crazy are insignificant now. I used to stress over preparing holiday meals for large crowds. But now I welcome the times when my kitchen chairs are occupied.

I’ve held countless titles in my 65 years, most that I’ve cherished and been proud of. I can forgo, though being referred to as a ‘senior citizen’ just because I had one more birthday. I don’t need to be attached to a name or daily reminder that I have more days behind me than ahead when my hips and feet already do that for me.

The best part of being 65 is that I’m still alive! I can still walk, well actually, I kind of waddle. I can still form a comprehensive sentence, thanks to the aid of Siri, who helps me find words. I still love to dance, albeit I probably look like a fool but don’t really care. I still put a lot of effort into everything I did when I was younger, but mostly because I have to and not necessarily because I want to.

As time goes by, I also take pride in being satisfied with less, like when I order the ‘early bird specials’ in restaurants because they are actually just ‘smaller portions.’

Above all, I still have the remarkable blessings of a beautiful family and dear friends, who I not only love fiercely, but who, after all these years, have still managed to love all six plus decades, of me!

I blew out two candles this past birthday — the 6 and the 5. Luckily, my family realized that blowing out all 65 candles on the cake would have not only been a startling reality check, but would have nearly killed me!

I’m still young at heart. And, as long as I can continue to enjoy the beauty of nature, the warm embrace of a hug, the deliciousness of chocolate and laugh at myself, I’m going to keep sending all that “senior citizen’ junk mail back!

I refuse to let the old lady in.


Donna Cordello is a free-lance writer who lives in Penfield. Contact her at
Donna Cordello is a free-lance writer who lives in Penfield. Contact her at