Thought for the Day: The distance from the Chair to the Bed.


I have spent a great number of hours in the last several years sitting in a chair by my father’s bed, both at home and in the hospital. My contribution to the care of my parents is little compared with the work my brother and his wife do. In the last several years, one of the children has always been there, we  work together to honor the promise that mom and dad would stay together at home.  We have some professional support, but we do cover wound care and bathing ourselves. I mentioned that to someone who was visibly uncomfortable with the concept. I am not particularly religious, but I did point out the innumerable references in Christian literature to it, and pointed out that it is something you are doing for yourself, not the recipient.



Having my gall bladder Exorcism this week has moved me from the Chair to the Bed, and brought the great awareness that they are much further apart than they seem from the chair.  The person seated believes they are a few feet apart, but the person laid down know the distance is measured in understanding, not in feet.  I am particularly close to my father, and really try to understand his struggle, but in the end , the person in the chair is a spectator, and the person in the bed is in the Arena. It is human nature for the spectator to believe  he understands, but the man in the Arena is a better judge of the width of the gulf between them.


Your Aviation Connection:


I have written at great length and from many angles about the difference between Spectators and Participants in  experimental aviation. If is my firm belief that the EAA was founded on the principle that every member would be welcomed with the message of Learn, Build and Fly, addressing them with the assumption that their rightful destination was their Arena, and they were never to be escorted to a seat in the bleachers because someone else assumed the right to judge them. 


As we enter the latter half of this flying season, take a moment to evaluate if your influences are occupying chairs or beds. The chair people will tell you they have just as valuable input and perspective, but those in the Bed, who’s faces bear the traces of sweat and blood, quietly know better.




I would like to apologize to the people who were legitimately hurt by yesterday’s attempt at humor. My only defense it that people on IV narcotics are poor judges of good taste and funny. If you were part of the majority of people who thought it was funny, consider yourself lucky to be a chair person on the subject of losing friends and family many years too soon. The people who wrote to say it wasn’t that funny are bed people on the topic of loosing a lot of friends, and no matter what I wrote trying to be funny, I also am a bed person on that subject.




16 Replies to “Thought for the Day: The distance from the Chair to the Bed.”

  1. William, I thought your story of long time friend Gall Bladder was funny. But presented as all real things in life are, you have to go through it to the end to get the perspective and understanding. not like some dime store novel where the title and back flap tell all so there is no real surprise within. All in all an interesting take. Press on.

  2. Wiliam,
    The article today was thought provoking, and speaks of life and it’s passing, and all that occurs within the few years we have. Thanks for the observations.
    And, your present experiences are rather galling, aren’t they?
    Good luck.

  3. William, Hope you feel better soon. I been there and done the gall bladder thing and it wasn’t fun, I ended up spending three days in hospital. But you will feel much better when you get out of the hospital. Get well soon.

  4. Feel better soon William. I look forward to each and every attempt at humor or otherwise. Yours is one of my most read and prized email subscriptions. I’m 69 years old as of Sunday… been a pilot since 1973. Have owned a 1957 Cessna 172, a 1948 Cessna 140, and a Long EZE project. I restored the Cessna 140 and built the Long EZE only to sell the unfinished project in 1992 in order to move from N.C. to Kentucky to chase a business opportunity. Haven’t flown an airplane since 1991 when I also sold my 172. I’ve been to Oshkosh most years since 1973… Missed AirVenture 2016, but already planning to attend AV 2017.

    I continue to dream of building and flying (learning) a homebuilt with a Corvair engine that I will build myself… I enjoy the refreshing attitude of your forums. Further, hope that I will be able to afford to pursue my continuing dream.

    BTW, I was released from Lakeland Regional Hospital 5/31/2016 after having my gall bladder removed. My sympathies to you…and speedy recovery. Hope you find as I did that it wasn’t too bad a recovery. I’m still in the process myself…

    Best wishes

    Oscar Petree Lake Wales, FL

  5. I am definitely a chair person, that was funny. Sent to my wife who was a bed person several years ago after having her gall bladder removed. I’m quite confident she does not miss the acute pain from the attacks she used to have. Wishing you a speedy recovery and return to Corvairing

  6. I, and then my father both had fatal cancers. It is harder to be the chair than the bed even while dying. Never was I so serene and at peace than when all my responsibilities and duties were lifted from me by circumstance beyond my control.

  7. Humor, helps to keep things in perspective. Which I feel you have a very good handle on! To a speedy recovery.

    To you and Grace, all the best.

  8. William.

    Just had to comment. I had mine out about two months ago, so I feel your pain. I got the humor. It takes about two weeks until deep breaths don’t hurt. And by all means don’t sneeze.
    Get well soon

    Randy Lewis

  9. Speaking from a chair, all I can offer is encouragement. One of my daughter-in-law’s had her gall bladder removed about 2 months ago. It took her 3~4 weeks to recover enough to no longer feel discomfort from the surgery. For comparison purposes, on the minus side, she is 20 years younger that you; on the plus side, she gave birth to her 3rd child about a month before the surgery and was still recovering from the pregnancy when the surgery became necessary.

  10. This is a troglodyte grease monkey blog and has been for a long time, that’s why most of us read it. Folks with such sensitive feelings that would be upset by a post from your hospital bed about your late gall bladder are most likely in the wrong place to start with. Don’t worry about the hurt feeling trolls. Get better soon and get back to work.

  11. Dear William, I can relate to being in the hospital from both the chair and the bed. If you remember me from the Chino college I had a heart transplant. I hate the chair and the bed.
    The best thing about it for me was I could spend hours thinking about and planning the airplane I was going to build. Focusing on something I really wanted to do, thinking about all the things I wanted to do a certain way, how I wanted to paint , avionics etc. All the research kept me from going crazy from boredom and the apprehension about what the next insult to my body was going to be.
    I learned about you, your company and the corvair engine laying in bed and now I’m building a 3.0 and hope to buy the panther kit very soon.
    Get well soon and back to work and use the boredom to the best advantage.
    Ps: You know better then most that you can’t please everyone so best to please yourself.

  12. William , 2 weeks ago I saw you wolf down a half a rack of ribs not sitting twenty feet from Jack Pelton in the same restaurant, got pics to prove it, now your gallbladder takes the bus outa town and you’re wearing pink slippers , , coincidence, I don’t know. just saying. get better my friend I’ll see you in Mexico in a couple of weeks

  13. Hi William. Tom from Alaska here I talked with you at Oshkosh about installing the Corvair in my Midget Mustang project. As a “survivor” of the sneaky gall bladder I know how you feel. Been over 10 years now don’t miss is a bit!

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