Molly is a spirit. A big, boisterous, joyful, irreverent, hell-raising, fun-loving, muckracking, uninhibited, maverick spirit.
As such, she lives.
I first encountered her in 1970, when she exploded from the pages of the Observer like a supernova. She was full of wit, smarts, and sass, grabbing readers by their hearts, minds, gonads, and funny bones. Damn, I thought, no human can write like that! She could knock you over and lift you up in the same sentence. It was her spirit coming at you.
For 40 years or so, Molly wrote, spoke, taught, and agitated all across America, rallying progressive souls with the expressive force of that spirit to stand a little taller, get a little noisier, help whack some pompous plutocrat or asinine autocrat right in the snout—then go have some beers and an uproarious laugh.
In my years of knowing her, I found her to have five passions: (1) good, solid, and brave investigative Journalism (with a capital J); (2) the Bill of Rights—I think she spoke to more ACLU meetings than any president of that organization; (3) progressive politics, aggressively populist, putting the corporate structure and the money powers right in our sights; (4) underdogs; and (5) the merry combination of good friends, good drink, and good fun (she orchestrated many a wild game of charades in her home, playing it as a full-body, contact sport).
In my last dinner with her, Molly turned to me and said out of the side of her mouth: “This has been a hell of a ride.” She meant the months of trying to stay atop the cancer bucking within her, but it could also sum up her 62 years in this life. Molly came to us as a spirit, lived with us as such … and has now left you and me infused with her spirit. She did her part—and our happy task is to carry it on, breathing the fiery, loving, laughing essence of Molly.
Former Texas agriculture commissioner, former Observer editor, and populist sparkplug Jim Hightower is an author and radio commentator.