"As soon as I saw the list, I knew in my heart I had to finish it for him. It was a decision unlike any I'd ever made", said Laura Carney.
The greatest satisfaction for a child is knowing their parents had a life well-lived. But what if they leave a bucket list behind? Laura Carney found a bucket list penned by her father after he was tragically killed by a distracted driver in 2003 when she was 25. She then spent the last five years and 11 months of her life completing the list. This has even helped her rebuild and redefine her connection with her late father.
Carney wrote in a piece for PEOPLE, "According to the list, he'd wanted to talk with the President, correspond with the Pope and own a tennis court. He'd wanted a large house and his own land, a cellar of fine wines—to skydive at least once. These were a young man's goals—29, to be exact. He wrote the list in 1978, the year I was born. My mom laughed along with him when she read it. But she didn't know, because of their divorce, that he kept checking it off his whole life."
"'See a World Series game live, 'I remember when he did that'," Carney's brother recalled. He ticked off a few from his bucket list such as, "Be interviewed on a radio program" and "Do a comedy monologue." He also owned "a great record collection" and helped "his parents enjoy their retirement."
One day, a teenager made a phone call at a red light and his remaining dreams were left undone. Carney wrote further, "As soon as I saw the list, I knew in my heart I had to finish it for him. It was a decision unlike any I'd ever made. It felt like something I was supposed to do. I hoped that by living his dreams out loud, I might inspire people to drive more mindfully. I didn't realize my mission might inspire them to live more mindfully, too."
She discussed her experience of completing her dad's bucket list, "The minute I decided to finish his bucket list, my life turned into sci-fi, with a pinch of 1980s slapstick. At 38, when I was told to settle down, I instead headed into the unknown. And with every item, something ridiculous happened."
She added, "While 'running 10 miles straight' in the Los Angeles Marathon, I peed my pants. When 'skydiving at least once,' I puked mid-air—on television. I checked off "talk with the President" by meeting Jimmy Carter (the man in office when my dad wrote the list), who's actually more of a man of God. I 'surfed in the Pacific' for only two seconds—I spent most of it wiped out. I went 'sailing by myself' in San Diego, in a sailboat the size of a bathtub. When I checked off 'ride a horse fast,' the only thing fast about the horse was how rapidly it emptied its bowels."
"Talk with the president." ✔️— My Father's List (@myfatherslist) August 28, 2017
Another list item check off! What an amazing experience. pic.twitter.com/2zki9DwAf3
But there were good moments too, as Carney posted on her Instagram when she visited Berlin, "Thanking God and my dad—out loud, a few times today—for this amazing adventure. My afternoon was pretty different from my morning but still great. More to come!"
But she also said, "yet each time one of these silly things happened, I knew my dad was saying hi. He always wanted me to take life less seriously." She also found closure on his sudden death by completing his bucket list, "I know he's proud of me, finding closure in his mortality, finding sense in something senseless. Finding the story. But I think what makes him the proudest is that 54 people helped me check off his bucket list—people who, though doing something new, helped me re-create our rituals."
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Cover Image Source: Youtube | Inside Edition