Terminally ill man reunited with daughter 17 years later

Published On: Apr 02 2013 01:39:23 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 02 2013 11:10:00 PM EDT
Joe Dziekanowski reunited with daughter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A terminally ill man from Yulee says his dying wish came true Tuesday.

Joe Dziekanowski hadn't seen his daughter in 17 years after he moved away for work. They were reunited Tuesday at Jacksonville International Airport.

"Excited, nervous, scared," Dziekanowski said. "It's the most beautiful day in the world."

Dziekanowski lost touch with his daughter, and after years of looking, he thought he would never find her. But it was she who found him.

Two years ago, his daughter, Laura Stull, looked him up through an app on her phone. She found an address, then gave it a shot and sent him a letter.

"It said, 'L Stull, Dallas, Texas,'" Dziekanowski said. "I couldn't imagine, and when I started reading it, I said, 'This is my daughter.'"

They've been talking ever since over the phone. Dziekanowski was hoping to visit her, but in October of last year, he found out he had colon cancer. At this point, they knew they had to make a meeting happen.

"I'm happy it happened," Stull said. "I didn't know when it was going to happen. I'm thankful to some friends who paid for my ticket."

Both father and daughter are overwhelmed with joy, especially because Dziekanowski got to meet his 10-month-old granddaughter.

"I can't even describe how it feels right now," he said.

They both say it's been a long time coming.

"Money can't buy what I got today," Dziekanowski said. "If this cancer takes me tomorrow, I'm happy."

The newly reunited family had big plans Tuesday. They were going to take Dziekanowski's granddaughter, Ashlynn, to the beach for the very first time.

Stull and her daughter will be visiting her father for a week. And after they go home, they plan to stay in touch. She and her father talk every day.