Friday, August 14, 2009

Tokens at Flannery O'Connor's grave

A good portion of O'Connor fans who visit Andalusia also take the time to see other sites in Milledgeville associated with the writer, including Georgia College, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and Memory Hill Cemetery, where O'Connor is buried. As is the case with the graves of famous people all over the world, visitors often leave behind something on or around O'Connor's tombstone. The most common objects are coins, usually pennies. The motivations behind this gesture are varied, from demonstrating affection and respect for the deceased to paying for one's passage to the afterlife. There are even voodoo practices associated with leaving coins at grave sites! In addition to the traditional flowers, some visitors to O'Connor's grave leave behind other tokens such as peacock feathers, pebbles, stones, poems, small books, and figurines. I once found a small plastic gorilla figure at the foot of her tombstone (a big fan of Wise Blood, obviously). On a recent visit, a Frenchman named Jacques Colin took some photographs of the tombstone adorned with several tokens. He was amazed that, over the course of just three days, the collection of the items on the tombstone expanded and was rearranged several different times. We encourage all our visitors to see Memory Hill Cemetery and the grave site. O'Connor's deep convictions and her fixed gaze on the eternal make such a pilgrimage most appropriate.


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