Happy Birthday, Mom

On this 24th day of December 2021, my precious mother, Frances Mable Christabel Tripp Gilley, would be 103. She left us 10 years ago, and I can't believe that much time has passed. I still miss her.


As a young woman, she left home to live with her sister, Marie and Marie’s husband Harry Smith. There she found safety and love.


Many times, she told me the story of meeting the man who would become my father. She and her sisters had gone to see a bridge over a creek in High Point, GA.  They had heard that if you spit in the creek, the next guy you saw would be your husband. So, they all spit in the creek, and down the hill came a wagon full of Gilley boys. Mom eventually married J.T. Gilley and Gladys married Harry Gilley. My parents were married for 51 years before dad passed away from cancer.


When dad came to court mom, her mother used to say if he stood sideways to you and stuck out his tongue, he looked like a zipper. Those were the days of the depression and even though they lived on a farm, it was hard to keep that many boys fed. Dad gave mom her first birthday present ever. Since her birthday was so close to Christmas and money was tight, her family never celebrated her birthday.


On October 18, Mom went to pick J.T. up from Fort Oglethorpe, where he was stationed. He had some leave, and they wanted to spend that time together. Upon her arrival, dad indicated that the war (WWII) was going to last a long time, so they should just get married. Mom agreed, and they headed back to nearby Chattanooga to do exactly that. Dad was driving, and a police officer stopped him for a broken headlight. It turned out his driver’s license had expired. They ended up in a long queue to take the driving test. Finally, one examiner came up to dad and said, “It looks like you can drive. Come to the front of the line.” Happily, he passed his test, got his license and they continued on to Chattanooga.


Dad got a haircut, and mom picked out a new dress. They stopped by the courthouse to sign the papers and continued on to the pastor’s house to see if he would marry them that evening. He agreed, and they went to Marie and Harry’s house to get ready. The service was a simple one at the house. Afterwards, mom and dad went for a drive to let all the excitement settle and realize what they had done. Meanwhile, Marie and Harry short sheeted their bed!


When dad transferred to Miami, Mom went with him. They had a great time at the beach, and mom was a cutie! Dad probably had to beat off other soldiers with a stick to keep his claim on her.