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September 10, 2011

Looking Back: We all must try to be more like honey than vinegar

There's an old saying that has been used many, many times throughout the years: "You get more bees with honey than with vinegar." (I prefer bees to the flies.)

It seems easier to criticize or to find fault by looking for errors than to look for the good points in anyone and something to commend. "Fault-finding" seems to be very prevalent in the world today, and certainly it is one of the causes for anyone's depression.

Humility teaches us that we all are imperfect and that we all can do better ... but with the help and kindnesses of each other, the task can be easier.

Through the years and especially so as I have gotten older I have found the above to be so true.

Yes, one good word goes a long way and a good deed along with that will be fondly remembered. As said: Actions speak louder then words.

You do "reap what you sow," and now, today, there have been many a thoughtful reciprocation. Acts of kindness are appreciated: There has been homemade chicken soup and apple pie, flowers, thinking-of-you cards, and the delicious garden vegetables from folks who still have those green thumbs along with their youthful vigor.

Even though old age or disabilities with their limitations can curtail many a good deed, still there is always a friendly phone call, a visit, or a little something in the mail to express the thankfulness for someone's love.

My brother repeats an interesting scripture on his answering phone message. It's a proverb which encourages a 'good word:' "As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it." (Proverbs 25:11)

As I get older and older, and my brother is right behind me along with many family members, we perceive that there isn't much left of this life. I realize that subject is one a person doesn't like to talk about much less read about but reality is reality.

In the past year we have attended several funeral services with each being very different. One clergyman actually entertainingly sang the audience songs while another had to read a lengthy prayer. Just recently a minister was remembering some humorous experiences when a 6-year-old little boy in the audience spoke out extemporaneously, loudly exclaiming, "... and he called you an old grouch." (Who said, "Out of the mouth of babes oft time come gems?" Well, you know who stole the show.)

But now to be serious: I must relate how I actually appreciated what was said on the sad occasion of losing a dear, dear friend who we all will miss. The speaker highlighted and commended the individual's life with many experiences we all could relate to. Not only were accomplishments referred to, but many biblical Scriptures were highlighted that gave insight on the hope of a future promised life and assurance of being reunited again with family and friends all enjoying health and happiness. The closing prayer was from the heart, which we all could say "Amen" to. We all took home with us the feeling for a better tomorrow and a life left now to enjoy as we can be helpful to others.

So, as I think about funerals or memorial services, I hope I will be remembered for being a person who tried to be helpful and caring and forgiving for any shortcomings that might have offended.

In the meantime ... on a happy note: I do feel OK even though the "old ageisms" do get to me ever so often. I still can encourage, commend and thank others for their thoughtfulness and good deeds.

That "honey" the bees love can go a long way.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 78-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at

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