Dana Wishnick is the youngest daughter of my best friend in college, who died before she was born. I had lunch with her and her mother Joyce in Chicago last week, just before her beloved stepfather died. I'm sharing this beautiful tribute story she wrote.
As many of you know, my biological father died when my mom was seven months pregnant with me and my sisters Susan Wishnick and Sandra Wishnick were 7 and 9 years old. Five years later the man who I would call dad and who proves that fatherhood has nothing to do with DNA entered my life. Joyce Contarsy and George Contarsy, who had lost his wife and had two children - Elise Contarsy and Larry Contarsy - merged together two families in a loving, sometimes crazy but always supportive family. They built a beautiful life together. At the age of five, I was so excited to being getting a dad and a dog! Buffy was part of the package. I got so much more. I got a big brother and another sister. Sadly we lost my brother Larry way too early from the same disease that also took his mom. And I got a father who loved me deeply, listened to me, worked the morning New York Times crossword with me and who hopped on a plane in my moment of greatest need and stayed with me until I was in my feet again. I had the honor to be by his side yesterday just before he died and spend the last couple hours of his life with him. His unique sense of humor remained to the end. As we waited for my mom to find us in pre-op, he joked that he knew he would never need to divorce my mom, that he could drive her around the block, let her out of the car and she would never find her way home. I will miss him so much and do not know who I will call now every day as a drive home from work. I am deeply moved that my two dads will be buried close to each other. I have been a lucky and loved girl.