By Steve Svetovich
If you start talking to Tony Amico, there is a good chance you won’t want to stop the listening part of the conversation.
Because there is a very good chance he will leave you feeling much better…with his words of encouragement.
So it is no surprise that Amico, born and raised in the close-knit community of Dunmore, would write a book entitled, “Painting Life With Words of Encouragement.”
The book was published by Foundation Books Publishing, Brandon, MS. Laura Ranger Author provided the format and editing.
Amico’s debut written work takes the reader on a poignant and thought-provoking journey with his musings on self-discovery and the meaning of life.
Readers will most likely read the book from start to finish on day one. The reader can follow along as Amico delves into his inner turmoil on the darkest of days, and then pulls you into a place of hope and inspiration as he colors your world with ample words of wisdom and encouragement.
Son of Angie and the late Anthony Amico, the author, a mason by trade, was raised in the post World War II era of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Amico grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood with a working class upbringing.
He always had an artistic flare, and creativity was an inherited trait he never took for granted.
A 1975 graduate of Dunmore High School, he explored several vocations. Ultimately, masonry would be his calling. And thus Amico Masonry has been a fixture in the community for the past 40 years.
As life and circumstances progressed, Amico’s art was intertwined through the pages of his life.
Personal tragedy, the very worst of its kind, struck August 25, 1993. His only son Michelangelo died at 14 due to a suicide. He would have turned 15 in another month. Amico’s story, “Marbles,” on page 55 (Michelangelo’s photo is on page 54) of the book, relates the story of the dad’s final day spent with his son.
He received three marbles from his son that day. The marbles were the last things that would ever pass between the father and son’s hands. All were tossed from son to father while they dug during an excavating job.
Amico placed the marbles in his pocket and remembers the day “as if it was a video playing over and over in my mind.”
Amico kept the three marbles in his pocket for years after his son’s passing and still keeps them next to his bed.
After the loss of his only child, writing would take a place in his heart often as a way to communicate to himself. Eventually, it became a way to reach out to others. Amico’s style of writing creates visual images through his words and thoughts. Hence the title of the book.
He credits his wife, the former Valerie Pagliari, the love of his life, for saving everything he wrote, many scribbled on small pieces of paper, over the past 18 years.
“Her love and belief in me is my greatest inspiration,” he said.
Amico’s close friends, Laura and Al Summa, Dunmore, authors themselves, recognized and encouraged his writing ability and brought it to the attention of Laura Ranger Author, who ultimately became his publisher.
Amico also acknowledges his first wife Nancy for sharing in the joy and blessing of having Michelangelo.
Without question, Amico dedicated his book to Michelangelo. “He possesses the greatest love in my heart. There is no equal besides my God. Although I lived the longest portion of my life without Michel physically present, he remains physically with me. He passed at such a tender age, but remains within me. He remains in my heart, mind and every fiber of my being.
“There is no question his death brought forth the life of my writing. What was once a form of self therapy and often still is, now has allowed me to share with others on his behalf as well as my own. We remain a part of each other. He is never absent.”
Amico’s mom, Angie Amico, 92, is currently receiving therapy at Allied Rehab. He visits her daily and is very close. He hopes for a quick recovery so she can return home soon.
Amico says his writing is “self therapeutic” and his thoughts and musings are often “spur of the moment.”
Amico said he always had artistic talent, but after his beloved son passed, his creativity and writing was taken to a different level.
“My wife Valerie kept all of my writings in a folder for me. Laura Summa contacted me and suggested she send a few of the writings to the publisher. She did and then the publisher contacted me and wanted to see more. Valerie pulled out all of my clippings and sent them. And then I signed a contract with the publisher.
“All of the clippings are my musings, thoughts, observations, short stories and poems.
“The book is a justification of things I would want to say to my son.”
Amico will hold a book signing and speak about teen suicide awareness at the Penn State Scranton campus in the coming weeks at a date to be announced.
“This will be the first time I tell Michel’s story in public. I will have the three marbles. I hope it has a positive effect in the end.”
A scholarship is granted each year in Michelangelo’s name to a Dunmore High School senior who is planning a career in the arts.
Amico said he first got into masonry work as a very young man. “I was repairing manhole lids and liked the feeling of mortar on my hands. I went into the business and hired people who knew more than me. I became the student of the men I hired. I tapped into it and became a student of older people. I could relate to them and it worked for me.
“I painted my truck bright orange so it was recognizable. I grew a mustache and wore baggy pants to look older to my customers.
“I learned a lot from the late Sam DeAndrea. He molded me into a mason. The ultimate compliment came when he first referred to me as a mason. He called me a real mechanic. He taught me so much about life, business and masonry. I was humbled and honored.
“I now consider myself a mason contractor who likes to write.”
Amico’s thoughts once again turned to his son’s suicide over 25 years ago.
“It was by far the hardest day of my life. There is such a thing of being brought to a level below your knees. I can illustrate what that means in clear graphic terms.
“There is nothing worse than walking into a room after the suicide of a child.
“Life can become like a Ferris wheel. It can take a downturn and then be brought back up again. But I think about my son every single day of my life.
“And those three marbles are a representation of his life and my final moments with him.”
Amico wrote about “life’s concert” in his book.
“Life is like a never-ending concert. You have an entrance, some great music, happy songs, sad songs, a few that fall flat, some really spectacular moments, and an ending without an encore. And then there are those who continue to talk about it afterwards keeping the music of our life alive. Give your best performance today. You never know when the curtain falls.”