{Scrapbook Captions by Mike Nappa}

Amy at age 22. So pretty! This is the college sweetheart I fell in love with.


Now THIS was a good day! See that gold bracelet Amy’s wearing? When we got engaged I didn’t have a ring, so I gave her that bracelet as a temporary substitute. She kept it—and wore it frequently—for the rest of her life.

Amy, and our young son Tony, at her sister Jill’s wedding. Aren’t they adorable? They were both part of the ceremony. And me? My job was to wait outside the church with my infant niece, who wouldn’t stop crying no matter what I tried. (It’s OK though—Alexa and I are best buddies now.)


Yeah, there was about 5 minutes when we were young and pretty and almost famous, signing autographs for a long line of fans. Then we stepped out from behind the table and nobody knew who we were anymore. Ah well.

Amy’s favorite people. Top row: Amy with her sisters, Jill, Jody, and Annette. Bottom row: Amy, hanging out with our son, Tony.


This selfie is from our 25th wedding anniversary, when we took ourselves to Walt Disney World. The last day, a tropical storm rained from morning to night—so we slickered up and had a blast outside anyway. Amy said later it was her favorite day by far from the whole anniversary trip, and “proof that I married the right man.”

For decades Amy said that she wished she’d learned how to surf when we lived in California. So for a gift in 2013, I arranged for her to take a surf trip to San Diego with her sisters. She was really nervous! Then she found out she loved it. The next year, she talked some of her girlfriends into going back to surf school with her again.


For her 48th birthday, Amy decided that we should get a bunch of our friends to dress up like the 1970s and go to Olive Garden for dinner. No, I don’t know what the 1970s has to do with Olive Garden—but Amy’s costume-party-birthday sure was fun.

Amy at age 50. I know, it wasn’t fair that she looked this stunning at that age—but I wasn’t complaining. I took this picture on a whim after church on a summer Sunday in 2014. One year later, in summer 2015, we found out she had cancer.


One of Amy’s long-time dreams was to visit PIXAR studios in California. About five months before she was diagnosed with cancer, that dream came true! We got to go to PIXAR as part of the press corps covering the release of Pete Docter’s Oscar-winning film, Inside Out. The highlight for Amy was interviewing Pete and hearing stories of his interesting childhood. And of course, getting her picture taken next to the Luxo Jr. Ball.

When Amy first started chemotherapy, one of her friends made this "Pray for Amy!" logo and used it as her Facebook photo. Over the next year, hundreds and hundreds of people kept this as their Facebook photos, a constant reminder to pray for our girl. 


Yeah, I look goofy, I know. But it worked. JT didn't sing, but he did send Amy a very special video. She floated for days after that. 

This was the moment when Amy first watched her special video message from James Taylor. She was just so happy. So, so happy.

That smile. Wow. Just beautiful. Only weeks away from death, yet Amy could still light up any room with that smile. Thanks JT, for giving us the treat of seeing our girl with that kind of happiness on her face before she died.

During chemotherapy, PIXAR director, Pete Docter was an unexpected source of encouragement. He sent Amy a get well card with sketches and warm thoughts. She liked it so much, she framed the card and hung it by her bed. When we thought Amy was going to live, she wanted to thank Pete, so we took this picture of Amy (with his card) and sent it to him. About three weeks later, we found out she would die after all.


Amy and her best buddies, our grandchildren Genevieve and Cayde, about two months before she died. Time like this was all Amy ever wanted out of life. It always made her happy.

As she was dying, Amy's only regret was that she would miss her grandchildren's special moments in life—birthdays, graduations, weddings. So in the weeks just before she died, Amy spent herself, all the energy she could muster, creating eighteen years worth of handwritten, personal notes, kept safe inside birthday cards, graduation cards and even wedding cards. It’s my job to deliver the appropriate card each year to our grandkids. Yes, I cry every time.


Two more people Amy loved—our niece and nephew, Tiffany and Christopher. Amy tried to adopt each of these kids at one point or another over years. When she found out Chris and Tee were coming to visit, Amy determined she would not die until she saw them. You can see how tiny she was, how weak…and how happy. She went into Hospice the very next day, but she kept her promise. She refused to die until after she’d hugged these two people one last time.

One day in Hospice, near the end, Amy was bored so she started making crafts out of candy wrappers for her sister, Jody. As they laughed, they quizzed themselves on daily theme songs from the 1950s show, The Mickey Mouse Club. In that happy moment, Jody snapped this picture on her cell. It was the last photo ever taken of Amy.


The real Amy—my Amy!—ready for anything after stealing my sunglasses. I used to call her the “Walking Carnival” because she could make any day fun. This is the Amy I remember most.


I miss this girl very much.


Amy Nappa

1963 - 2016


“All my love to you, Amy…Carry on.”

James Taylor

“If you are taking the hard way home, you will find encouragement here.”

Gary Chapman, Ph.D.

The Five Love Languages

“Hope you had great adventures together…and will have many more.”

Pete Docter

 Disney•PIXAR’s Up and Inside Out

“Thank you, Mike Nappa, for the privilege of being able to share in Amy's journey home. Your openness and vulnerability will be a blessing to all who read Hard Way Home! Amy's last chapter continues…”

Karen Pence

Second Lady of the United States

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