When I think of Molly Ivins, I think of the importance of laughing in the face of tragedy. That’s not what she was necessarily about, but two things come to mind when I think of her…
I listened to her critique the language of George W one September morning on my way to work. It was sunny and beautiful and I sat in the parking lot at school while she finished up. I went in laughing at her jokes and disgusted with our president. Later, that Tuesday had turned into 9-11 and I drove home wondering if I’d ever laugh like that again. But then, I remembered what she said – since forgotten – and laughed. It was probably the last time I laughed at Bush with real humor and not as a defense mechanism.
Jump to November 2006. We were fortunate to go hear Molly Ivins lecture about the death of journalism. You could tell it wasn’t easy for her, but she had the audience at Hogg Auditorium laughing as she shared some her best stories: the gang pluck incident, her first murder (covered, not committed, she pointed out). She talked about the need for locality in newspapers and how a good newspaper had to be of its community.
She made us laugh; she made us think, and it was easy to see she was fighting hard, that she was losing, that she damn sure wasn’t going to give up. Being a Texas progressive taught her to fight hard and do it with a smile, and it sounds like that’s how she fought cancer.
It was a weird night, and a week later a friend of ours lost his own battle against cancer. These things are all mixed up for me now, blended together into the swirl of memory, but one thing stands out when I think of Molly Ivins: Laugh. No matter what.
Update: In the comments, Jessica suggested that this post wasn’t complete without some links to Ivins’ writing. Jessica is right, so here are some links: