Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A birthday of a different order

Today marks the 46th anniversary of Flannery O'Connor's death. Many visitors to Andalusia mistakenly assume that the author died in her bed at the farm. The truth is that O'Connor died at Baldwin County Hospital in the very early hours of August 3, 1964. In February of that year the author had an operation to remove an enlarged fibroid tumor. Unfortunately, this procedure reactivated her lupus and she began to decline rapidly. The last time Flannery felt well enough to receive visitors was on July 25th when her friends Mary Jo Thompson and Fannie White of the Sanford House stopped by Andalusia with food from the restaurant. Flannery got up from her sick bed, dressed, and sat out on the porch in a rocking chair and visited for a short while. By the following week, Flannery O'Connor was extremely ill and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance on the morning of July 29th. The next Sunday, as her kidneys began to fail, she received the Eucharist and was administered last rites by Abbot Augustine Moore of Holy Spirit Monastery. Shortly after midnight, she slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. on August 3rd at the age of thirty-nine. Her funeral mass was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church the following day.

Last March we celebrated what would have been Flannery O'Connor's 85th birthday. We had a party at Andalusia in her honor complete with birthday cake and the mayor of Milledgeville came out to the farm to proclaim March 25th Flannery O'Connor Day. Today, August 3rd, we celebrate an event of a different order: Flannery O'Connor's heavenly birthday. Requiescat in pace.
- Mark

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