I have always been impressed by checkers players, even the bad ones, like me.
They can sit poring over games for great chunks of time, staving off defeat and pressing ever forward across black and red divides to get to the last, or "king" row, where you get new powers to attack and defend and perhaps even to win the contest.
It takes skill, knowledge of the game, and most importantly, persistence in attack.
This week, a number of colleagues whom I have served with in the Legislature will retire to their homes after many years of service to their communities and constituents and to the state.
Most have become close friends and all will leave memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Each leaves a legacy that may not be widely known, but will certainly be widely felt.
Their persistence not only in attacking our state's problems, but in their own willingness to sacrifice time with their families and the joy of doing what they like in favor of doing what someone must, stands as silent tribute to not only themselves, but all who serve and have served.
That persistence of sacrifice should not go unnoticed, as it often includes the (hopefully transient) sacrifice of public stature at the loss of an election, or a legislative offering seen as badly crafted and therefore worthy of public scorn, or a very human (but highly publicized) human error.
The wounds attendant to that kind of laceration heal from the inside out (if at all) and aren't often seen by those who have never felt its sting.
For this reason, I offer my heart-spoken thanks to all of those who are leaving legislative service at the end of this year - for being a friend, colleague, adversary, confidante, adviser, partner, and for being willing to serve for so long in the face of all the bitter headwinds that battered our state during your years, and into which you so resolutely leaned ever forward.
To those of us who remain, it is you who have achieved the "king row" across a path once checkered but now open to travel, without bounds or bonds and into contests of your choosing and yours alone.
We will miss you, we look forward to hearing of your accomplishments, and we pray "God Speed" for whatever endeavor your heart brings you to engage.
Perdue, D-Wayne, is a pharmacist and chairs the House of Delegates' Health and Human Resources Committee.