After Their Father Died, a Discovery Changed Their Lives Forever

Laura and her father Mick

Mick Carney, a devoted father of two children, was killed in a car accident in 2003. The crash occurred when a teenager, preoccupied with her phone, blew through a red light and crashed into Mick’s car. Thirteen years later his still devastated children decided to organize a campaign about the dangers of distracted driving. Around the same time, Nov., 2016, they were searching through their father’s old things when they discovered three sheets of  paper they had never seen before. Those papers would totally transform their lives.

Mick with Laura as an infant

Daughter Laura Carney, who has a degree in journalism and has written for magazines like Good Housekeeping, decided long ago that the best way to honor her dad was by campaigning against distracted driving. Despite years of advocacy, Laura felt something wasn’t right, since more people than ever were being killed by distracted drivers.

Laura had just married, and her brother was on the verge of marriage when suddenly they found an answer they didn’t realize they were searching for. As David and Laura sorted through Mick’s things they made a discovery that would launch them on a second quest to honor their father’s memory.

The Handbag

The list started by Mick Carney

While the kids were sorting through their dad’s belongings, David found an old leather handbag. He immediately sensed that something important was inside. He opened the handbag and discovered three handwritten pages of notes. They were titled:  “Things I would like to do in my lifetime.” Mick, it turned out, had started making his list in 1978, shortly after his daughter Laura was born. Unfortunately, Mick had only lived long enough to accomplish five of his goals. As they continued reading through the list, they realized they, themselves, had achieved many of the things their father had always wanted to do. That’s when that second idea of how they could honor their father, bounced into their heads.

The 60 Goals

David and Laura decided that in addition to campaigning against distracted driving, they should try to accomplish all 60 things their father wanted to do before he died. David and Laura had unwittingly completed 13 of their father’s goals before stumbling on the list. At first they weren’t sure if their father still cared about the list, which was written when he was just 29. But then they noticed that he had checked off several of the items, such as attending a World Series game (he wrote the score underneath) and being interviewed on a radio program.

Mick Carney, Laura and David

There was one item on the list Mick’s kids could never really make happen: There dad’s desire to “live a long, healthy life at least to the year 2020.” But Laura and David recognized that they could still achieve the goal in some small way.  This would be accomplished by completing all 60 tasks by 2020, just as their father hoped to have done.

The Goals

Mick’s bucket list included some easily, and not so easily accomplished goals. For example: “Have five songs recorded.”  Son David had already recorded five songs with his college acapella group, so mission accomplished.

Laura and her husband after she ran the race her father couldn’t

Laura, meanwhile, set her sights on dad’s quest to “run 10 miles straight.”  trained  for months at night, and whenever she reached a new distance milestone, she felt her father there right beside her. Finally, during the L.A. marathon, Laura achieved Mick’s goal of running 10 consecutive miles with no walking. Other goals would be much more difficult to attain. Mick wanted to both “talk with the president” and “correspond with the Pope.”’  The list included other fun ideas, like “have my own tennis court,” “go on a $1,000 shopping spree” and “own a black tux.”

There were other heartfelt goals their dad had accomplished without even knowing it. He wanted to “give my children the most love, the best education and best example I can give.” Both of his children are living proof of that. His love and life examples were what inspired them to continue his quest.

The List Goes On

Laura Carney with the framed list

Laura said she was happy to find her father’s list at this mature point in her life and that it made her “feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. I feel like this is what I was meant to do.” You can follow the progress of Laura and David by visiting their website, www.myfatherslist.com.

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