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Posted at 2:08 PM ET, 12/26/2010

Year in review: A time of grief — and grace

By Bonnie J. Morris, Washington

A year in which one loses a parent stands out as the absolute pits. In my case, though, losing Dad was mitigated by seeing his legacy, right here, in the cityscape of Washington. My father, Roger Morris, designed the volleyball courts near the Lincoln Memorial, a play space still bursting with life and activity after more than 30 years. As he lay dying, touching letters of gratitude poured in from Washingtonians whose lives had been uplifted by D.C. Doubles (or just an afternoon of spiking in the sun). To spend a year learning how my father shaped the lives of total strangers was not loss but a daughter-historian’s pleasure: We lived here and did good.

Frankly, I knew 2010 would be a challenge well before Dad began his final weeks. My New Year rang in with all the charm of a hooded cobra: I awakened last Jan. 1 with food poisoning and no heat in the building, and it went downhill from there, especially when some hacker used my e-mail account to send spam in my name (and I endured weeks of hate mail in return). Trying to distract myself from family grief by opening up The Post, I found I had few reasons to complain: Elsewhere, volcanic ash was blinding European cities; Haitians battled earthquake destruction and disease; gay kids were being bullied to the point of suicide; oil gushed into Gulf of Mexico waters. (This land was made for you and me.)

But then I’d drive past Dad’s courts and they’d be packed with players. My students dropped by, saying, “Your class has changed my life.” When Alice Walker came to town to read from her new book, she danced with me. I watched my George Washington University student Elana Meyers win an Olympic medal in bobsledding during the Winter Games. And just last month I sat in the front row for “Hair” at the Kennedy Center. Pulled up onstage to dance with the cast at the very end, I found myself belting out “Let the Sun Shine In” and found that I meant it, too. What 2011 will mean, for me, is carrying on the noble name of Morris with good cheer.

The Post invited readers to write a short essay on the meaning of 2010 for the D.C. region. To participate, send up to 300 words to letters@washpost.com.

By Bonnie J. Morris, Washington  | December 26, 2010; 2:08 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Year in review 2010  
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Next: Year in review: Sporting seasons to forget

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