Though he describes his childhood as happy, Sanford’s adolescence was touched by tragedy. When he was a junior in high school, his father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he died five years later, the Sanford family buried him under a pair of oak trees overlooking a river, according to his wishes. Mark built the casket. He says,
"You hammer the nails closed, you carry it out there in the back of the pickup to a certain part of the farm. You lower the thing down there. You and your brothers do it on your own, and then grab shovels. We say a little prayer, fill the grave, walk back up to the house. It was an intensely personal experience that really hit home for me: you ain’t taking any of this stuff with you."
Similar to my wishes, although I don't have an oak tree or a river to be buried near. I want an old-fashioned wake here at the homestead. I want people eating, talking, and drinking in the back room while others take turns in a vigil praying for my soul in the den where my body lay (on dry ice-no embalming for me!) in a homemade casket. After transport to and from the funeral Mass I want to be buried on our homestead where the daily view of my grave by my loved ones will prompt numerous prayers for my poor soul. I want my sons to lower my casket and shovel the dirt. This is the way it should be done.
Oremus pro invicem!