After their father’s death in a car accident in 2003, a brother and sister are attempting to fulfill their dad’s unaccomplished dreams.
Laura and David Carney discovered the list during a move in November 2016. At the top it read: “Things I Would Like to Do in My Lifetime!”
Their father, Michael Carney, was 54 at the time of his death. A teenage driver struck his car at an intersection and admitted in court that she had a cellphone in her hand. Some witnesses reported seeing her talking on the phone moments before the crash. She claims she had the phone out but both hands on the wheel.
Michael wrote the list at age 29 in 1978 — the year Laura was born. The 60-item list contains such activities as “run ten miles straight” and more far-reaching aims like “correspond with the Pope” and “talk with the president.”
Laura opted for the 10-mile run and began training for the Los Angeles Marathon, which she completed in March.
“After I reached 10 miles, I let myself start walking. I gave myself what my dad called the ‘atta girl award’ — I patted myself on the back,” she wrote on her blog My Father’s List. “When I set out to do this, I didn’t fully believe I was capable of it.”
Of the 60 items, her father had crossed off five. Between Laura and David, they completed 13 before even discovering the list. That leaves 42 items to go. Michael wrote his list with the goal of completing it by the year 2020.
That gives the siblings just three years to cross off the remaining items. Though some like “have my own tennis court” might not be so easy to achieve, more manageable ones like “see a world series game live” are in reach.
“‘It always seems impossible,’” said Nelson Mandela, ‘until it’s done.’” writes Laura on her blog.
Since the fatal accident, Laura has become an advocate for distracted-driver awareness. As she wrote for Good Housekeeping earlier this year:
Over the years, I’ve become an advocate to help sound the alarm about the dangers of distracted driving. I write and speak about it whenever I can, and it’s helped me forgive the girl who killed my dad — I had no choice once I learned that it is literally impossible for a driver’s brain to function correctly when distracted by a call or text. It’s also helped me move beyond horror to find purpose, and I hope finishing this list will do the same. If I have children, I want them to know their grandfather as more than a victim. They’ll know him as a man whose impact was great.
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