I never liked Molly Ivins very much. I never met her in person, so I’m talking here about her articles. I never felt inclined to spend money on her books, although I’m told they are much like her articles, only more so. I always found Ivins representative of that self-devoted clique of liberal narcissists in the media who thought they owed no honor to anyone with whom they disagreed, and like the KKK were inclined to shrug off protests from decent folk regarding their conduct – they know better than we common folk, don’t you know?
But Ivins passed away this week, and from breast cancer to boot. Since my own diagnosis I have learned quite a bit about cancer. There is no peaceful, gentle way to die from it. Cancer kills a lot of people, from every demographic group and gender and age, and even the survivors are ravaged by the fight against cancer, and never know for sure that it won’t come back. And in Ivin’s case, the damn thing came back, and she beat it again, and it came back yet again, an evil monster that finally beat her body and stole her life. Cancer has been in the news a lot this past month, actually. In addition to Ivins, Art Buchwald died from cancer, and so did Richard Kelley, President Clinton’s stepfather. Marcheline Bertrand, the mother of actress Angelina Jolie, died from cancer in January, and so did Deborah Orin of the New York Post. Vern Ruhle, pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds, died from cancer in January along with NASCAR driver Benny Parsons. You get the idea, and we have not touched the thousands of ordinary, decent folks who died from a disease they did nothing to cause and could not hope to stop.
But cancer didn’t beat Molly. Of that I am sure. Ivins, for all my disapproval of her politics and rhetorical tactics, was a fighter, no shrinking violet, and she would hardly sit still and let it beat her. What’s interesting as well, is that Ivins showed an uncharacteristic modesty where her fight against cancer is concerned. Maybe it’s other cancer patients she had in mind, who must fight for their lives without enjoying the fame and fortune of being a well-known author, or maybe it’s just that facing the end of your life as you know it – or worse, your independence – so suddenly is humbling and sobering. No one deserves cancer, and I am impressed with anyone who is not turned into a blobbering case of self-pity when they realize what they are facing. And those who stand up and fight the disease with all they have, cannot help but earn my admiration. Ivins fought hard, every step of the way, and while she died from cancer, it did not beat her.
May God grant you rest and peace, Ms. Ivins, and may all who knew and loved you find solace and know that you won that battle which mattered most.