Larry Bush had only a decade to know his mother before she died May 15 in a Richland house fire.
Those years were precious, he said.
“She was delightful — a very easygoing person, easy to be around,” he said.
Bush’s mother, Linda Saracson, and his father divorced when Bush was 1. Bush was sent to live with first his aunt and uncle, and then with his father and his new wife. Both of them, like Saracson, were deaf.
Saracson had been deaf as long as she could remember, Bush said. He believes she lost her hearing when she had rubella as a baby.
As an adult, she worked a series of mostly minimum-wage jobs that did not require hearing.
She had moved to Cleveland with her second husband.
It wasn’t until Bush was in his 30s that Saracson announced that she and her husband were moving to Richland to be closer to her son.
Saracson found them an apartment in Richland, but they had not been there just weeks when her husband died, Bush said.
His mother had a remarkable memory, he said. She had no trouble recalling names, dates and people. But she had been very dependent on her husband.
She had not learned to drive and had never written a check.
Bush spent much of his free time with her, helping her not only with practical matters, but providing company after her loss. It’s difficult to find grief counseling available with sign language, he said.
Serving as a link between the deaf and hearing world was a familiar role for him after helping his father and stepmother starting as a young child. He remembered calling the utility company to dispute a bill for his father when he was 10 years old. He was always at his father and stepmother’s side, translating during parent-teacher conferences or helping renew a driver’s license.
Saracson was resilient, and she bounced back, Bush said.
When a few years later a gentleman began to take an interest in her, Bush was skeptical. He had no sign language skills. But he treated her like gold, and his family took Saracson in as one of their own, he said.
He died about two years ago. At the time, a family friend of her companion had been living with them, and he continued to live in her home, helping out with tasks such as housecleaning and cooking.
In recent years, Saracson had some health issues, her son said. She had been smoking since she was a teen, and a suspected stroke had made walking difficult.
Once a week, he would take her to lunch — Dairy Queen was a favorite — and they would catch up.
She and roommate Dennis Sparks lived in the Bushes’ first home, a remodled World War II prefab on Adams Street.
It was filled with the butterfly trinkets Saracson collected. She enjoyed watching The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune, plus any program with anything to do with cooking, he said.
She doted on her chocolate lab, Rogue, and a monstrously large cat that the family joked was part bobcat.
Her other passion was word search puzzles, and Bush would bring a new one whenever he visited.
The Bushes had moved about a year and a half ago to Wenatchee, where Bush works for the Cashmere School District as a school psychologist and federal program administrator. He previously had worked as director of special services for Educational Service District 123 in Pasco, as part of a career inspired by his childhood experience with deaf parents.
He tried to convince his mother to also move to Wenatchee, but “she did not particularly care for the idea,” Bush said.
The investigation of the fire that broke out in Saracson’s house the morning of May 15 is continuing.
The house had fire alarms equipped with flashing lights, Bush said. Sparks was not home, and it is not yet known why Saracson and her pets did not make it out of the house.
Two weeks after the fire, officials let the family back in the house to see if anything could be salvaged. Bush could not face going in, but his wife, Angela, and one of her friends searched through the badly burned house.
Almost everything paper was gone. But they found two photo albums intact, as well as Saracson’s jewelry box.
Bush still is dealing with the shock of his mother’s death. She was 67.
“She was taken away too soon,” he said. But the good memories of his mother from the last decade are starting to come back.
Saracson is survived by her son, his wife and grandsons Darick and Lucas, all of Wenatchee.
An account has been established in Saracson’s name at Bank of America to defray funeral expenses and to help her roommate get re-established.