Monday, August 23, 2010


Today I spent most of the day working on one of my other writing projects. It went well, but I am now exhausted, and need to take a writer's break. So tonight's post is something not written in real time, but actually written last week.

Those familiar with my writing know that I love to explore the various meanings associated with words. Often I turn to the Internet for this information, and all to often that source is Wikipedia.

Origin of the word Checkmate (according to Widipedia)

What I learned is that most people have the misconception that having your king in checkmate means that he is dead. This is because when the game of chess reached Europe it was by way of the Islamic world. But the origin of the word is actually from a Persian phrase, which would translate to mean that the kind is ambushed or defeated. If you separated out the word “mate” it would be translated to mean the king is abandoned, or that he remains.

So as it seems, I have two ways of looking at this term that immediately popped into my head when I sat down to write. I can either identify with the incorrect usage of the word to mean that the King is dead. Or, I can identify with the use of the word as the King is ambushed, abandoned, or left to remain.

Curious. In my household we had two Kings. Well, that's at least how we wanted our kids to see us. We both ruled in very different ways. I was the king you had ruled the household for many years. I ruled with from a voice of authority. And while I wish I could say that I ran a democracy, in reality, it was much closer to a dictatorship. My kids would likely say I ruled with an iron fist, figuratively of course. Enter the new king. He is gentle. He is kind and soft spoken. He obviously has not had to rule over children before.

Anyway, unfortunately in our game of chess, one king was put into checkmate far too soon. And even though Wikipedia would have us believe that to say the king is dead is in incorrect, I would beg to differ. My king was taken out of the game at age 48. He had much more to do in this kingdom, and we had much more to benefit from his way of governing those who he loved.

But why does it feel that the person who truly lost in this game is me, the other king. I am the one who now feels ambushed, abandoned, and left remaining. I feel it coming at me from all sides, and often don't know which way to turn. When Michael was still here he had the most calming effect on me. When I would find myself becoming very rigid with the kids, he could take me, his mate, and put me in check. This was not something I initially appreciated, but with time, grew to depend on. Now that my king is gone, I have to put myself in check. I have to rely on that calming gift that my husband gave me, and remember that it is still here.

When the one we love has fallen, we begin to feel like we will fall too. What I am learning, in time, is that my image of Michael is not as a fallen king. Yes, he no longer rules here on earth, but his spirit remains, standing tall.


  1. Btw, I don't know if you've got a planned use for essays such as this, but if you haven't already considered it, maybe see if you could get some interest from a parenting magazine, or something along those lines. One of my brothers is a freelance writer, mainly writing and occasionally producing television shows, but when he's between projects, he writes the odd piece for magazines. Some pay fairly well and if they like your work, will buy a piece to print on a fairly regular basis. He has a couple of magazines he's been writing for occasionally for a few years. Anyhow, just a thought.

  2. Dan,
    You do have writing talent and a wonderful ability to convey mood and tone. I love your use of metaphor. And of course the sharing of your thoughts, ideas and feelings are what bring me back here, caring about you and interested in your welfare.

  3. Great post. It is so true that those of us left here as single parents often feel like we have fallen. It's not very politically correct, but I sometimes feel like Austin got it easy and I'm angry at him for leaving me alone to parent our sons.

    I love your writing, too. It's so eloquent and thought provoking. I still believe I'll see you on Oprah one day! And remember to save me a seat in the front row so I can cheer you on!

  4. deb - I feel that way too, and I think maybe matt would agree, that I got the harder road, for now. Though who knows.

    Dan - Nice. And, do you know Ah, word geek's dream. They have good versions of checkmate, too.

  5. love it Dan. You are still listening to Michael's voice. It's evidence of a strong strong and true love that you have the ability to do so (I should know ;-)

    I love you,
    Boo x