One night, when Lucent was 14-years-old, her despicable father returned, drunk of course, and her mom let him in the house … again, even though she had three brothers living nearby who’d have gladly beat the man to a pulp. Within 10 to 15 minutes he was already yelling and starting to hit her mother. He was extremely intoxicated, Lucent was very athletic and strong for teenage girl anyway, and she’d had enough, so she literally side tackled him, knocking him down. He hit his head, good and hard, on the floor and one of the kitchen cabinet doors. He was stunned, to say the least, so she immediately jumped on him and started double-barrel pounding him until her mother jerked her off.
Her mom began screaming at her to leave him alone, calling her all kinds of vile names, and then told her “just leave … get out of here!” Well, Lucent did exactly what her mother told her; she packed a haversack of basic belongings and headed two miles down the road to the uncle who lived the furthest away from her mother. Her Uncle Ben Keener took one look at her standing on his front porch and said, “Come on in, Lucent. This is your home now.” She never had anything to do with her mother again. Lucent didn’t want her father’s name, of course, and she thought she was actually more of a genuine Keener anyway. Consequently, she changed her last name as soon as she could do so legally. She officially became Lucent Probity Keener.
At 18-years-old, she married an affable, handsome young man, who gave Lucent one child the same year, then left a bit over two years later never to be seen or heard from again. To tell the truth, though, she really didn’t want to find him. She was bound and determined that she and her little Moxie would make it just fine without some pathetic, fastidious man in the way anyhow. Not that she felt that way about men in general. Oh no! Nothing could be further from the truth, because she loved and respected her uncles dearly. No, it was her run-away husband who was pathetic and fastidious. Anyway, she changed her last name back to Keener and, due to extenuating circumstances, the court allowed her to change Moxie’s last name to Keener as well.
Lying on the twin bed in her room at home, Moxie reviewed her venerable heritage and just how much it made her who she was and would become … and she was proud. Rightly so, she thought, but Able’s having to begin another heritage for himself now, just like my mom so many years ago. Tough, but exciting, and I get to be part of it, just like I’ve been part of my mom’s. Moxie smiled. She loved her mother more than any woman in the world, and practically revered her.
For Moxie it all began in the teeny-tiny town of Green Twig, located about 20 miles south of Splinterbit, which was just fine. After all, she spent an awful lot of time with her great uncles and cousins repairing small engines when she was growing up … well, at least her first ten years. They called her their “little grease monkey,” and this was her start on the road to her own little business in small engine repair. At age ten, they moved to Grand Oak, where Lucent finished her Master of Science in Nursing at Grand Oak University and Hospital to become a nurse practitioner. Moxie was especially proud of this achievement. Her mother never sat down and quit, never gave up or gave in; she just kept pushing up and onward.
Moxie looked around her room. Russet brown walls, deep blue ceramic table lamp, small oak-wood desk with an old computer and newer laptop off to the side; two five-shelf book cases, with one very dark, rustic gold shelf overtop of the desk. Her bedroom was bordered in trim of a darker brown background than the walls, and overlaid with perfectly dimensioned swirls of wine red, hunter green, ocean blue, and dark yellow. Somehow the room seemed to magically blend together into something mysteriously attractive, even fantastical. Colorful but nebulous art on three of the walls added to the mystique. Appropriate, she mused and quietly chuckled. Our life story together so far could be titled ‘Mystique: The Incredible Story of Lucent Probity Keener and Her Wily Daughter.’
Lucent had already earned an Associates Degree in Nursing and passed certification at age 20, then went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing by age 24, despite her persnickety, hard-to-please, irresolute husband. This was astounding enough, really, given the difficulty of making the trek to Splinterbit College day in and day out, while working at the little clinic in Green Twig and raising a daughter (with the much appreciated and necessary help of aunts and uncles, of course), but deciding to pursue a career as nurse practitioner was … well, almost beyond belief. But Lucent did it, and with degree in hand and certification achieved, they moved 30 miles southwest of Grand Oak to Splinterbit, where she began work at the Hart Community Clinic.
Moxie glanced at her bookshelves. The titles were evidence of her mother’s passion for very substantive, well-rounded learning. Hard Times, Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky; The Gospel in Brief and A Confession by Leo Tolstoy; various “How-To” mechanic books and, of course, a couple of good dictionaries, including the magnificent Oxford English Dictionary. The shelves also sported A Quick History of Philosophy, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Third Revised Edition, and A New History of Anthropology by Henrika Kuklick. Moxie smiled. None of it was decorative dressing for the sake of her room’s appearance; besides, how many girls would really stomach having this kind of personal library anyway? How many boys, for that matter?
No, like mother, like daughter. Moxie Keener grew up under the tutelage of a voracious reader and became one herself. This included the holy Scriptures of Christianity, too. She spied her three well-used translations: The New Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition), The Revised English Bible w/Deuterocanonical Books, and The Good New Translation (Catholic Edition). Moxie also owned The Inclusive Language Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation, but she really thought calling it a “translation” was a bit of a stretch, and the word choices throughout often felt forced. I’m all for egalitarianism, and I’m sure as hell an independent-type woman – just like my mother – but that one is just utterly disappointing because it’s so downright silly!
Moxie laughed out loud then and quickly turned over into her pillow to stifle the sound; she didn’t want to wake her mom at midnight. Thinking about egalitarianism and the place of women in contemporary society, though, brought to mind a recent confrontation Lucent had with a rather dimwitted, legalistic, misogynistic religionist. They were actually in the grocery store when she and her mother rounded the corner and happened upon a conversation this man was having with another man, presumably more intelligent and not of the same mindset. She heard the fundamentalist bemoan the “terrible state of society,” in which “men are no longer men, and women are doing men’s work instead of being obedient to God’s Word in keeping their place.”
Lucent couldn’t help it, really; she could have just passed him by without a word, but it was beyond her capability to remain silent. The fish was already on the hook! Why not go ahead and reel him in and flay him? Moxie mused with her face still buried in the pillow while she tried to stop what had now devolved into pure giggles. “Well, then, I suppose if you’re in an automobile accident and I’m the first one on the scene, you’ll want me to leave you alone, even though I’m a trained and certified nurse practitioner with eight years experience under my belt … even though I might very well be able to save your life? Because I’m just a woman, of course, and I should ‘keep my place,’ of course, and we should wait together until some qualified man arrives.”
The misogynistic religionist looked dumfounded. Maybe he’d never had a woman talk back to him? The giggles ramped up a notch and Moxie’s sides began to hurt. “Or maybe, just maybe, it’d be o.k. if I called 9-1-1 … unless women shouldn’t use phones, of course,” her mother had continued. “Hell, maybe I shouldn’t even be driving a damn car, for that matter! I wonder, is that what you’d tell me with your last dying gasps? Something like, ‘You’re just a woman! What are you doing behind the wheel of a car? Where’s your husband?’ And me there, with eight years practical, hands-on experience – with an awesome reputation, too, by the way – just standing there, doing nothing to save your wretched life, just because I’m a woman and it’s not my place.”
It wasn’t a long confrontation, really. In fact, the man just stood there looking like he’d just bombed the back of his pants. The other man, with his arms crossed and smiling, actually offered the only reply. “Point, set, match!” were the three words he spoke before turning around slowly and simply walking away. Moxie’s mother took this as her queue and continued down the aisle without looking back. Lucent was a professing, non-sectarian Christian, but she was also a healthy and athletic, fiercely independent woman, who was a strong advocate of education, the practical virtues, and common sense reasoning.
In fact, in her mind, the two went hand in hand. If the Christian faith meant redemption, then redemption meant liberation from oppression and marginalization, disease and maladies of mind and body, ignorance and down-right stupidity. In this sense, Lucent was a very “earthy” type Christian; eternity could wait, life now was to be lived now. Goes an awful long way in explaining why my super mom never slows down, Moxie mused. I wonder how many more degrees are in store for her? She’s just nailed down her Masters in Social Work so she can offer more and do more as a nurse practitioner. Bully for her! Moxie started giggling again, and so it was face into the pillow again.
This all sparked another memory, one of a conversation she and her mother had about her relationship with Able … all in all, good but somewhat uncomfortable for Moxie, which was unusual where her mom was concerned.