Human Interest Daughter Completes Bucket List Her Late Dad Made the Year She Was Born: 'I Know He's Proud' Laura Carney spent nearly six years completing a bucket list of items penned by her father, which she discovered over a decade after he was tragically killed by a distracted driver By Laura Carney Published on January 24, 2023 09:59 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Mick Carney and Laura Carney . Photo: Courtesy of Laura Carney Laura Carney is a freelance copyeditor for PEOPLE who has spent the past five years and 11 months completing a bucket list of items penned by her father in the year she was born, and which she discovered only after he was tragically killed by a distracted driver when she was 25. Here, she writes about completing the list, and learning what it means to rebuild that connection. "We named the dog Indiana." "It's a show about nothing!" My dad was the king of the catchphrase. A comedian, salesman, writer and piano bar singer, he was only alive for 25 years of my life, but when I hear classic movie and TV lines, his spirit lives on. "Don't call me Shirley." "There's no crying in baseball!" His favorite Muppet was Rowlf the Dog, his favorite impression Sean Connery. He loved the Beatles, Motown and dirty jokes. He sang like an old crooner. Mick Carney was a Wednesdays and Sundays dad, but on those Wednesdays and Sundays we played sports, talked about life, and quoted movies and TV. "We're Griswolds." "Hello, Newman." (L-R) Joan Wilson, Laura Carney and Mick Carney. Courtesy of Laura Carney He wasn't wealthy, but he was rich in dreams. My brother and I knew this anecdotally, but didn't find out for sure until November 2016, when we discovered his bucket list. It had been 13 years since Dad was killed by a distracted driver. I'd tied the knot that spring, and Dave would wed in December. My brother had just moved into his first house when the list showed up. Dad never told us about it. He was too busy making jokes. "But enough about me, what do you think of me?" "Modesty's my best quality." Terminally Ill Student Fulfills Bucket List Dream of Presenting TV Weather Forecast 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. The List. Paul Porowski "'See a World Series game live,' I remember when he did that," my brother recalled. He'd also checked off "Be interviewed on a radio program" and "Do a comedy monologue." He'd owned "a great record collection" and helped "his parents enjoy their retirement." But the day a teenager made a phone call at a red light, his remaining dreams went undone. 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. Mick Carney and Laura Carney. Courtesy of Laura Carney "Did you just double-dip?" "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" My dad didn't live long enough to watch The Office. He never knew Arrested Development or Curb Your Enthusiasm. Mad Men was up his alley—but he also missed that one. I don't know sometimes which makes me sadder: that he couldn't walk me down the aisle or that we can't talk about Marvel. He loved storytelling. And he made me love it too. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. "Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?" "These are not the droids you're looking for." My dad's favorite show was Star Trek. 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. Laura Carney checking off “skydive at least once” skydiving. Skydive East Coast 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 wiping 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. 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. Laura Carney and Steven Seighman pose with President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Roslyn Carter. Courtesy of Laura Carney "Be the ball." "Norm!" My dad was like Uncle Buck, if Uncle Buck could sing. 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 most proud is that 54 people helped me check off his bucket list—people who, though doing something new, helped me re-create our rituals. Those moments we share in the ballpark, in the theater, on the basketball or tennis court, at the beach, on a long drive, in a diner telling jokes…these are the times when we feel connected to something bigger. Not when we're doing something stupendous. "Life is lived in little moments," my dad said. What matters in life are those more mundane times, when we think we're not doing much, but we're doing it with someone we love. Laura Carney. bacolosphotos.com 102-Year-Old WWII Veteran Goes Skydiving for Her Bucket List: 'A Thrill' I was blessed to have an entertainer dad—because of his favorite one-liners, I get to hear his voice for the rest of my life. Learning to listen again reminded me to laugh. And taught me to believe in my voice, too. "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" As I walk this road of bringing my story to the world, I know Dad is with me, reminding me to skip sometimes, maybe even dance. I am relishing this finish line. I'm not running. cover of My Father’s List: How Living My Dad’s Dreams Set Me Free. Steven Seighman Laura Carney's upcoming memoir, My Father's List, is available for pre-order now.