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Byline: Photos, story by Stacia Spragg sspragg@ABQTRIB.COM / 823-3647
The words of goodbye had all been spoken. The earth waited to be put back into place, to take back Gold Tooth Begay after his century and some years upon it.
Mary Begay, his wife of more than 60 years no one is sure how long stood at his open casket, touching one last time his hands entwined in the turquoise his family bought for his last journey.
Her prayers in Navajo, softened by her grief, hung over his body, drifted over his family and friends, over the juniper and pinon and sage of his land.
And then, as if on cue, the sheep's bells from a near distance began mingling with her words. They got louder, and as if from a dream, the family's flock of Churro sheep came from the west and passed by the pickup trucks, the trees, the people gathered to lay Gold Tooth to rest.
Without stopping, they moved to the east, and the coffin lid was closed.
Today, Gold Tooth Begay would have celebrated his 105th birthday. He died Nov. 18, two days after seeing a great-granddaughter born, and a month after seeing the sacred Churro sheep returned to the Navajo people after near-extinction.
Gold Tooth's life and death didn't stop the world. His death notice was read on …