She found the list in 2016, 13 years after his death in a road accident, and pledged to tick off all 60 things her father wanted to do.
Losing our parents unexpectedly can be a life-shattering experience. Laura Carney's father, Michael “Mick” Carney was killed in an accident by a distracted driver at the age of 54. It left a deep hole in Laura and her brother, David's lives. Laura was 25 years old when her father was killed in Limerick, Pennsylvania by a 17-year-old motorist who talking on the phone at red light. Laura Carney was given another chance to connect with her late father 13 years after he died. She found a tattered letter in her father's belongings and it turned out to be a bucket list. Carney’s husband, Steven Seighman told The Washington Post, "She had been wanting to find a way to understand her dad a little better. As soon as we saw the list, it was immediately like, this is it."
Carney stated that the list was created in 1978, the year she was born. It featured 60 activities, five of which had previously been completed, such as "do a comedy monologue in a nightclub" and "see a World Series game live." One was labeled "failed" — "pay my dad $1,000 + interest." This left Carney with 54 tasks to fulfill and go on a beautiful journey to know about her father. On December 27, five years and eleven months after the discovery, she finally ticked off the last item. She said, "It was a thing I needed to do so I could get back in touch with my real self. I was still carrying this grief and this trauma, and I had no idea that I was."
The list is headed "Things I Would Like to Do in My Lifetime!" The tasks range from the relatively basic, such as "swim the width of a river" and "grow a watermelon," to the more demanding, such as "correspond with the pope" and "be invited to a political convention." Several travel objectives are also included, including trips to New Orleans, San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, Paris, London, and Vienna, among others. At first, the list seemed intimidating, especially since certain things appeared to be unattainable like talking with the President. Carney, though, seemed unfazed and determined.
"I didn't talk about it," Carney stated of her father's death. "I really had some shame about it, because it felt like such an undignified way to die." However, a few years later, she became an advocate for safe driving, producing articles on the issue, raising funds, and giving presentations and interviews. While being an activist gave her a sense of purpose, the trauma of her father's death persisted. Carney, a freelance writer and copy editor, saw the bucket list as an unexpected way to work through her grief and reconnect with her father. She set a four-year timeline for herself, expecting to complete the last work by 2020. Her vacation plans were set back two years due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
She had already registered for a marathon, so she could cross "run 10 miles straight" off her list. Another early task she performed was talking with the President. She discovered that President Jimmy Carter, who would have been President at the time her father compiled the list, taught Sunday school in Georgia. She took a flight to meet him. Although Carney accomplished several of the duties on her own, including a two-week vacation to Europe, "it didn't really feel like I was doing things alone," she said. She always felt her father's presence when fulfilling these activities.
Completing the bucket list allowed Carney to come to know her father in ways she hadn't had the chance to and never expected to. "These were his goals and his dreams. It helped me understand him better, to see him as a full human being instead of just my embarrassing dad. And doing that helped me to understand myself," she said. "Until I found the list, I thought I was more like my mom. As I did the list, these parts of me would emerge that were very much like him."