This coming Wednesday, August 3, is an anniversary we mark each year: Flannery O’Connor’s death at 12:4o a.m. at the Baldwin County Hospital. Perhaps on this day more than any other Flannery steps out of the “darkness of the familiar” as she put it. The lady behind those stories, essays, and letters that we’ve read so many times becomes far more of a real person in our confronting her death.
Even to visitors who have never read much of her work, Flannery’s presence here is quite evident, beyond the crutches against the wardrobe and the sink against the wall. The literary elements are still here, too: the hayloft and tractor, among others. The house is put through many of the same motions as it was when Flannery lived here, from the Supper Club dinners with our donors to conversations with visitors on our front porch. I think Flannery would like that this place remains as much of a home as it is.
There are stories of Flannery’s having to hide papers from her nurses because they didn’t want her to write in the hospital. We can all certainly admire the work ethic there. Those stories went into the second collection: Everything That Rises Must Converge, and some of my favorites were edited in the hospital room: “Parker’s Back,” Judgment Day,” and others. Flannery’s work ethic is no small part of our willingness to preserve Andalusia for the generations to come. This is a place of great inspiration, but inspiration is only as good as the efforts taken to put it into something tangible, sharable, and lasting. Thus, we thank Flannery for her example, and work to preserve that which she left behind. Requiescat in pace.
If you would like to make a contribution toward the preservation of this place, please visit our website, or give us a call at 478-454-4029.
Daniel Wilkinson is a Visitor Services Assistant and Blog Editor at Andalusia