By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
Charlene Seales never met a stranger. She preferred hugs over handshakes and believed everybody should be a twin.
She was also remembered by family members as the biggest source of energy and support in their lives —whether it was the distinct voice of support in athletics or the quiet volunteer in 4-H.
Kevin Seales said his mother was a constant supporter throughout his childhood and a friend into his adulthood.
“Nobody had time to do it; they were all farmers,” said Kevin Seales, who works for the city of Portales. “Guess who volunteers.”
Twin sister Darlene Richardson also shared a connection, and said she was sometimes known as Charlene with longer hair.
Richardson’s favorite memories of her sister involved the Portales Senior Center.
Charlene loved dancing, Richardson said, to the point where she’d tell the driver to stop the car so she could dance when a favorite song came on the radio. At the senior center, she’d help people in wheelchairs and walkers enjoy the dances as well.
“She didn’t have to do that,” Richardson said. “Those people meant something to her. And it meant something for her to do it.”
She handled many jobs throughout her life, including at a bank in Arizona and a grain elevator in Muleshoe.
One employer had a small challenge — when she took a job teaching school where Kevin and brother Keith attended, she didn’t have transportation. Solution: Join her sons on the school bus.
“It’s kind of hard to be disruptive when your mother’s on the bus,” Kevin Seales said with a laugh.
The education never stopped. Clark Seales, who married Charlene in October 1957, would often be joined by his wife on truck routes. He was told station supervisors would warn drivers about a woman who greeted everybody with a hug and wouldn’t leave until she knew the person and area.
“She was well educated on whatever was happening when we left,” Clark Seales said. “She was the PR person.”
But she always made it known she was the boss. One of her favorite sayings was “My way or the highway.”
“She’d give you the shirt off her back,” daughter-in-law Pauline Seales said, “but she’d tell you how to put it on.”
She would take part in Seales’ family reunions big enough to necessitate renting Portales’ Memorial Building and fit as many as 15 people in the family camper for trips to Ute Lake.
Her energy, Kevin said, wasn’t enough for death to stop.
“I’m sure God has wondered about who just arrived,” he said. “She was a busy woman.”