Liz Carpenter has left us. She was the last of my heroines to go, and now I’ll be hard pressed to find any other woman with their courage, style, or humor. The first to go was Barbara Jordan, she of the formidable intelligence and stenorous voice that made lesser mortals quake. The first black woman from a southern state to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, she was taken out too soon by MS. Then Molly Ivens, the journalist whose wit and wisdom overshadowed every other political reporter in the business, lost a long battle with cancer. And now Liz Carpenter, who never let any President or potentate cause her to lose her nerve or her bawdy sense of humor, has died. According to her family, she died of pneumonia, but I suspect that Liz was bored to death. At 89, it would have been hard for her to find anybody who had fought in the feminist trenches with her.
I never met any of those women personally, but when I played the game of “who would you invite as dinner guests if you could have anybody in the world?” they were always at the head of my list. I didn’t expect to converse with them, not even in a make-believe way, but I would have loved to have been in the same room with them and listen to them trade one-liners. If there is a heaven, and if we truly go on to reap rewards for what we’ve accomplished in this life, Molly Ivens and Barbara Jordan probably threw a party for Liz when she arrived. I imagine they invited Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Meir, and Cleopatra, along with all the other smart, strong, passionate women who’ve ever lived with us.