"A Force of Nature" Molly Ivins

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by Jayne Lyn Stahl

Last night, at her home in Austin, columnist and best-selling author, Molly Ivins, succumbed to her eight year battle with cancer at 62. If anyone could disarm death with humor and fire, I thought, Molly could. If anyone was unstoppable, it was Molly, she wouldn't brake not even for terminal illness, I thought. I started to write something for my blog and, mid-way through, decided to think instead about what her friend and colleague, Ben Sargent, said "She was just like a force of nature." I slept with that image of a force greater even than destiny, or will, an energy field that celebrates itself through defiance, and was content to think and say only that.

Until I awoke this morning, and quickly looked through my emails, only to find a post on a blog titled "We Are All Molly" which compels me to say only no, no, we are not all Molly.We do not all have theinimitable humor, and panache that registers 7.5 on the Richter scale of satire.

We can't all write "You Got To Dance With Them that Brung You." We can't all say that we were among the first women to rise to the top in the newspaper business, to venture into largely male-dominated political commentary, and to be the first female to cover police activities for The Minneapolis Tribune. Many of us have to look up the phrase "glass ceiling" on Google; Molly Ivins didn't.

She knew what glass ceilling meant, first-hand. Most importantly, she didn't play the "gender card," and I'm not going to, either. Though she could more than hold her own with any of them, Molly didn't want to play with the big boys; she wanted to play by her own rules, and that she did.

No, indeed, we are not all Molly. We didn't graduate from the Columbia University journalism school, and be among the first women writers at The New York Times for six years during the 1970's. We're not all feared, and lionized by former, and present presidents. Not even a fraction of us possess her uncanny sense of timing, determination, and indomitable wit.

Molly was one of two or three women columnists that people know, and read, in this country. which, in and of itself, makes her a force of nature. And, few of us possess the grace, heartand courage, in the last weeks of an eight year struggle with cancer, tothink about inspiring those we leave behind to take to the streets with pots and pans to speak out against the two-bit euphemism this president calls a "surge." "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'" Molly wrote in her column last month. Indeed, even a president who shows no greater love for the press than he does for truth, openness, and justice felt compelled to read a statement of tribute to one whose motto was "give them hell."

More people succumb to fear than cancer and, though cancer may have taken Molly, she never gave in to fear. She spoke from her heart, with the kind of passion, and fire that move those for whom the words truth and justice still resonate to express only awe.

While she didn't make an issue of it, Molly worked hard to earn our respect, and she deserves nothing less.Betterthan anyone else I can think of, sheshowedhow taking oneself seriously is the refuge of fools, yet she was, in the best sense of the word, one of the most serious, and significant political commentators ofher times. There is only one Molly, she paid a high price to be who she was, and even the devil would surrender his seat to her.

Alas, we aren't all Molly Ivins; would that we were, but we can aspire to have her moxie,and defiance of defeat, as well as stand up for what we know is right and, in doing so, honor her memory.

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