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Sunday, February 5, 2023

My Thoughts -Two Floors Above Grief: A Memoir of Two Families in the Unique Place We Called Home by Kevin M. O'Connor


Book Details:

​Book Title:  Two Floors Above Grief: A Memoir of Two Families in the Unique Place We Called Home by Kevin M. O'Connor
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+),  318 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Publisher:  18th Floor Publishing
Release date:  November  2022
Formats Available for Review: print-softback (USA only), ebook (Gifted Kindle)
Tour dates: Feb 6 to Feb 24, 2023
Content Rating:  PG for two languages use and use of F-word.   
Book Description:

As a child in the 1950s, Kevin O’Connor knew his house was different than those of his friends. A stately, three-story, nineteenth century Victorian. His bed tucked next to a stage in a former ballroom. His uncle and aunt lived with their three daughters on the floor below. A large electric organ stood stately in a corner of the first-floor mortuary business. Stacked caskets and an embalming room filled the basement.

Nobody had a house like his.

​Set from the 1920s to ‘80s, Two Floors Above Grief is full of fascinating details and anecdotes about his upbringing as a funeral home child, brought to vivid life through a compelling collection of letters written by various family members who lived and worked together at the O’Connor Funeral Home in Elgin, Illinois. Blending the twenty-four-hour business of death and its constantly ringing phone with joy experienced through music, radios, pets, backyard basketball games, co-parenting, faith, and celebrations, O’Connor offers a reflective tale affirming the love of family and embracing life.

Author Kevin O'Connor
Meet the Author:

Kevin O’Connor enjoys chronicling the stories of families and friends through tracing genealogical histories and writing. His prior writing includes a dissertation, personal letters, articles, anthologies, and presentations delivered at conferences, seminars, and webinars. He brings people together personally and professionally. Collaborating with friends and relatives, he plans family and class reunions.

He sings and performs in theaters and is active with SMART Ride, a bicycling group that rides annually from Miami to Key West, raising funds for HIV awareness, treatment, and education. Kevin was an elementary teacher, principal, professor, and curriculum coordinator in California, Illinois, and Florida from 1973 to 2020. He authored content and provided training in areas including support for substitute teachers, LGBTQ advocacy, and Sexual Health/Family Life.

Kevin resides in Ft. Lauderdale with his husband, Leon. Their family includes five sons and seven granddaughters.

connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ instagram linkedin ~ goodreads 
More from the Author
My Father Taught Me about Miscarriages
I first learned about miscarriages from a story on Dr. Kildare, one of two medical shows
that premiered in the 1961–62 television season. At twelve years old, I recall watching an
episode titled “Solomon’s Choice.” Afterward, I spoke to Dad.
“I just watched Dr. Kildare. The show talked about a lady who could not get pregnant.”
“Tell me more about the story you watched,” he encouraged.
“They mentioned a word. ‘Miscarriage.’ I am not sure what that is.”
“The story about the woman who was unable to get pregnant is what happened to Mom
and me. Do you know why there are nine years between you and your brother Barrett and only a
little more than a year’s time between your birth and your brother Kerry’s?”
“After Barrett was born, we wanted to have more children. Do you know what happened
between Mom and me before you, Kerry and Barrett were born?”
“I am not sure.”
Dad went on to explain the functions of the male and female bodies and the physical
nature of how conception occurs. As a Catholic parochial student, I had no instruction in these
topics. Fortunately, my father was not hesitant to talk to me about miscarriages.
“We wanted to have a brother or sister for Barrett. Some married couples have
intercourse because they want to experience pleasure. Some couples have intercourse because
they want to have children. I mentioned women’s monthly cycles to you and why mom has
Kotex in the bathroom cabinet. When a woman has what is called a ‘flow’ every twenty-eight
days, blood-like fluid flows in the Kotex pad. This flow is called a ‘period.’ When there was no
flow around the date Mom expected, it meant she might be pregnant. She went to our doctor. He
examined her and confirmed she was pregnant. We were so happy. This was the same feeling we
had when we realized mom was pregnant with Barrett. ”

“In January or February of 1942, Mom started feeling sick. This went on for a couple of
days. One day, mom noticed bloody fluid coming from the area of her vagina, the word I used a
little bit ago.”
“Did it hurt?”
“I think Mom might say she felt uncomfortable. When she went to her doctor. He told her
she had a miscarriage.”
            “What does that mean?”
“It means the baby could not stay in the uterus in Mom’s body. When the baby is in the
uterus, it’s called a fetus. The fetus released itself from Mom’s body. It’s called a miscarriage.”
“What happened?”
“The doctor advised Mom to stay in the hospital for two nights. He told us to keep
“Keep trying means a month or two after the miscarriage, we continue having intercourse
and hopefully get pregnant again.”
“So, what did you do?”
“Mom got pregnant again. I think sometime in 1943. She was pregnant for about five
months and started getting sick. She lost the baby.”
“She lost the baby?”
“Lost the baby is what people say when they have a miscarriage. Lost means the baby
you thought you were having dies in the womb or shortly after birth.
“What happened then?”
“We were nervous after this second miscarriage. The doctor told us to keep doing what
we should be doing. He knew Mom didn’t have a problem getting pregnant. He encouraged
Mom and me to keep trying. In 1945, Mom became pregnant. The third pregnancy lasted a few
months. But then it happened again—another miscarriage. Mom knew the symptoms.”
“What did you do? Were you scared?”

“Yes. Mom was scared each time it happened. Me, too. After that, Mom suffered two
more miscarriages.”
“Five miscarriages?”
“It was one of the hardest parts of your mom’s and my lives. We wanted to have a bigger
family. I felt a sick feeling, like a punch in my gut. It’s like the sadness I felt when my father and
mother died. We got excited each time we knew we were pregnant, but we did not share our joy
with very many people. It was like we needed to keep it a secret.”
“Each time a miscarriage occurred, we were filled with sadness.”
“What did you do?”
“I was sad with Mom. She kept thinking it was something she was doing wrong. I
reminded her I was there for her. I couldn’t feel what she was feeling in her body, but I felt it in
my heart. The doctors recommended Mom have surgery.”
“For what?”
“The surgery was inside of the uterus and the areas around the uterus. They hoped the
surgery would strengthen the muscles in her body.”
“What happened?”
“Mom did well with the surgery. The doctor said to try to get pregnant again after three to
four months. In the summer of 1949, the doctor confirmed she was pregnant. On Christmas Eve,
we hung a stork bird ornament on the Christmas tree. A stork is a symbol of a person who is
expecting a baby. When people came to the house to visit for the holiday, they either saw the
stork or we pointed it out to them. We told them Mom was pregnant. You came along about
three months later.”
“After I was born, what happened?”
“Everything was going so well. We decided to do what we needed to do to get pregnant
again. When you were about six months old, mom realized she was pregnant. The doctor told us

to do everything we did when she was pregnant with you. Your brother was born on June 17,
1951. Father’s Day. He was a special gift.”
The content of the conversation was a lot for a twelve-year-old to take in. Dad did not
bring up the topic again. Neither did I. After my conversation with Dad, I didn’t feel I needed to
know more. Interpreting my conversation with Dad affirmed he and Mom wanted to grow their
family. There has never been a time when my brothers and I were unwanted.

My Thoughts

Two Floors Above Grief: A Memoir of Two Families in the Unique Place We Called Home is written by Kevin M. O'Connor. I love books where I can learn about people, family and events in their lifetime. This is a well written memoir of two families that lived above a funeral home. I myself do not think that I could live above a funeral home. 

The author does a great job in recounting his lifetime. The main focus of his memoir is the 1950’s and 1960’s. I loved that he also focused on major historical events that happened during this time period. I really enjoyed getting to know the O’Connor family. The way the author writes about his family - I felt like I knew them deeply. 

The book is well written and informative. The author’s writing style flows nicely. Reading his work made me feel like I was sitting down with a friend for coffee. Thank you to the author, publisher and IRead Book tours - all thoughts are my own.

Tour Schedule:
Feb 6 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 6 - Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 7  Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 7 - 
Jazzy Book Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 8  Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 9 – I'm Into Books - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway 
Feb 10 – Novels Alive - book review / giveaway
Feb 13 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight  / guest post / giveaway
Feb 14 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Feb 15 – Diana’s Book Journal – book spotlight
Feb 16 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Feb 17  Splashes of Joy – book spotlight  / giveaway
Feb 17 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 21  Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 22  Books for Books book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 23 – Books and Games – book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 24 – Liese's Blog – book spotlight
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