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A life worth celebrating

Nov 3, 2010, 12:00 PM EST

Mildred Zuckerman was hardly an expert on sports, but she tried her best to keep up to date so she could carry a conversation with her oldest grandson and feign as though she knew what she was talking about.

She would make sure to check the various standings in the sports section on a regular basis, note how my favorite teams were doing. She'd try to be aware if a big game was going to be on TV so she could at least tune in for a moment and see the score. She didn't know a cleanup hitter from a cleanup crew, but she never let on lest I be embarrassed by my grandmother's lack of sports knowledge.

Truth is, the woman we all knew as Bubbee (a Yiddish word for grandmother) had a lot more connection to sports than most of her contemporaries. Start with the fact she grew up on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, one block from Yankee Stadium, and watched games from the roof of her building. This was during the 1920s and '30s, when guys named Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Dickey not only played in the Bronx but were regulars around the neighborhood, including at my great-grandfather's lunch counter.

Bubbee probably didn't have a lot of time for sports growing up, though, not with greater responsibilities at hand. She graduated high school at 16, a real math whiz who surely could have gone to collegeRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Deeply sorry for your loss, Mark, but that's a well-written tribute to a fine-sounding lady.

  2. Richard - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Many thanks for sharing this with us, your really really extended family.

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Sorry for your loss but your prose paints a life well lived.Thanks for making me fondly remember my loving Polish grandmother Bessie.

  4. Jenn Jenson - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    What a touching remembrance. Travel safely, Mark.

  5. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Well said. A life well lived indeed. Blessings.fpcsteve

  6. Doc - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Thanks Mark. It was a beautiful tribute that we can cherish for all of our grandmothers.

  7. natsfan1a - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    I'm sorry for your and your family's loss, Mark. As others have noted, what a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. You brought her to life for us. I wish you safe travels and comfort.Also, I have to ask: Is that you sporting the black t-shirt in the top photo? Inquiring minds want to know…

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 3, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    natsfan1a: Thank you. And yes, that's your humble sportswriter with the dark hair and braces on the back right of the top photo, age 11. My brother Eric is in front of me. And Bubbee is holding both my sister Traci (on the right) and my cousin Sophia (on the left).Also, that's me in the second photo with drool all over my shirt.

  9. sjm105 - Nov 3, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Mark:Your writing has always been one of the main reasons I head to this sight. To be able to put into words a part of what your grandmother meant to you is greatly appreciated. Have a safe trip, enjoy the memories and your family and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  10. original Senators fan - Nov 3, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    our prayers are with you and your family, Mark. She was surely a grand lady.

  11. K.D. - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    What wonderful memories you have, thank you for sharing and prompting us all to look back at our own. Safe travels and may God be with you and your family as you celebrate her life.

  12. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Tanchumim to you and your family. I will remember Bubbee during the Kaddish.

  13. ChicagoNatsGirl - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    What a wonderful tribute, Mark. All my best to you and your family.

  14. Jill MacDiarmid - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Dear Mark, That is such a wonderful post. It brought tears to my eyes. I know that you will miss her terribly. I just told Rachel this morning that I so miss my grandparents. I truly know your sadness. It is so precious that you can celebrate her rich life. Remember always that her love is always with you. It can be your guiding light in times of darkness. My prayers are with you and your family as you go through this difficult time. What a wonderful life she lived! With much sympathy, Jill

  15. James Hoy - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Can only parrot everyone else's comments. I'm touched by the loss of a woman I never knew. That is a testament to your writing gifts. Your grandma had reason to be proud of you.

  16. Samantha - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Beautiful tribute. I'm sorry for your loss.

  17. Berndaddy - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    What a true blessings it is to read about your Bubbee, Mark. You've brought her to life for us. I pray you can be bathed in the love of your family and washed by the wonderful memories of your Bubbee. Cherish them and thanks for sharing. Safe travels and remember we'll all be here when you get back.

  18. Danny - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    Thanks Mark for this and all of your other postings.I was just talking in the last day or two with my wife, describing how much I enjoy your blog, read it everyday. Just had to pass the link to this posting on to her – she'll cry her eyes out, I know. Sorry for your loss, enjoy the stories as you sit shivah over the next few days.

  19. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Beautifully written, thank you for sharing this with us. As someone that also used to get phone calls at odd hours of the night(my grandma was a night owl) it is nice to have a reminder to think back on memories of my own Bubbee. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  20. Traveler8 - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Mark, thanks so much for sharing – terrific lady and a terrific family. You have been greatly blessed.

  21. Knoxville Nat - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Mark, what a wonderful story and my condolences to you and your family for your lost. I never really knew my maternal Grandmother but in reading your post I couldn't help but recall my mother telling us how Grandma used to listen to Yankee games (Mom's family lived in upstate NY)while doing her household chores during the day but she would stop whenever DiMaggio came to bat, pick up her roasary beads and say a prayer for Joltin Joe. Travel safe and my prayers for you and your family.

  22. Charles (Sec3) - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    My condolences, also, to your family, and my thanks to you with all the rest, and especially our thanks to Mildred Zuckerman for all she's given us, through you.

  23. joneric - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Mark,Will echo what so many others said…what an incredibly well-written tribute to a Bubbe who received as much love as she gave. Tears are streaming down my face as your piece reminded me of my husbands aunt. She never forgave the Dodgers for leaving NY, and watched and listened to her Met games religiously.For Mildred Zuckerman – zichronan l'vracha

  24. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    I had to suspend the rule, "there's no crying in baseball" today. Wonderfully written.

  25. rmoore446 - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady.

  26. Steve M. - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Mark, very touching and enjoyed reading about your Bubbee and your family. When I saw where she grew up on Gerard Ave, I knew immediately what her values were of family and hard work as people that lived there weren't in the lap of luxury and family was everything. I know that because my parents and grandparents lived on Harrison Ave and Jerome Ave which I think is a block or 2 parallel with Gerard Ave.What was the name of your Alta-Zaide's lunch counter? I will have to ask my father who is in his 80's!To Mildred Zuckerman and your family, our thoughts and prayers. ZL

  27. dryw - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    I'll add that your memorial is the best gift you could have given her. My condolences, Mark.

  28. NatsnutMD - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    So sorry for your loss, Mark. What a wonderful tribute, which also brought back memories of my grandmother. How lucky you were to have her in your life for so long and now to have such memories, which will last your lifetime. Thanks for sharing your eloquence and feelings with your readers. I think we all feel like a part of your world.

  29. BQ - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Sorry for your loss, Mark.

  30. JaneB - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    I join so many others in condolences to you and your family. It's a beautiful tribute to her, and I am grateful you shared it with us. Grateful, too, that she shared her love of sports with you and helped you become the person you are. Loved seeing the picture of you and your siblings. Lots of us are sending love.

  31. Janner33 - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    My deepest sympathy for your – and your family's – loss, Mark. Your grandmother was a truly remarkable woman for whom good old fashioned values were the norm. It is evident that she was monumentally proud of your achievements, and rightfully so. Safe travels.

  32. SonnyG10 - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Mark, Sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tribute to a fine lady. Have a safe trip back.Sonny

  33. markfd - Nov 3, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Mark, so sorry for your loss. I will keep you, your Bubbee and your family in my prayers. Safe travels.

  34. Nats fan in NJ - Nov 3, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Mark – a beautiful article for clearly a beautiful woman. May the memory of your Bubbee be for a blessing.

  35. mjr - Nov 3, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Mark, I'm so sorry to hear about your Bubbee; Parkinson's is a tough way to lose someone. But it sounds like you and your family have many, many happy memories to carry you through this sad time. All the best. I'm sure the stove will be good and hot when you get back.P.S. LOVED the free-throw photo.

  36. Jeeves - Nov 3, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Lovely tribute, Mark. Your Gran would love it, just as she obviously loved everything else about you and the rest of the family.

  37. Todd Boss - Nov 3, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I'm sorry for your loss Mark.

  38. David - Nov 3, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    Sorry for your loss, beautifully written column. Your tribute to your Bubbee brought a tear to my eye as I remembered my grandparents who ran a little grocery store in Brooklyn around the same time. Mildred Zuckerman will always be remembered by her family and friends and her name will be written in the book of life.

  39. Scooter - Nov 3, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    I'm very sorry for your loss.

  40. jcd - Nov 3, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    Mark, I'm sorry for your loss. Your love for each other is very evident from your well-written account.

  41. Mayhemnsuz - Nov 3, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    That's a great story Mark; very sorry for your loss.

  42. bahou - Nov 3, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    What a wonderful tribute to a grand lady! We all should be so blessed to have a Bubbee. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Safe travels as you go to celebrate her life.

  43. Anonymous - Nov 3, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Very sorry for your loss. Incredibly well written.

  44. A DC Wonk - Nov 3, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    I'm sorry for your loss of an amazing bubbee.Hamakom yinachem eschem b'soch sha'ar availay Tzion v'Yerushalayim. (May HaShem comfort you…)

  45. greg - Nov 3, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    let me echo everyone else's words, condolences to you and yours.i think it's wonderful you had such a great influence in your life. i'm sure you and your families will be counting the blessings as you remember her. i get the feeling your family will find a way to make this occasion a little joyous along with the sadness as you regale each other with stories…

  46. JD - Nov 3, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    Mark, You are truly blessed to have had such a close and wonderful relationship with your bubbe; she is obviously occupying a large and permanent place in your heart. May she rest in piece.

  47. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 3, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    Mark,Please accept our deepest condolences on your family's loss. I join the others here in amazement of your ability to express your feelings and tell a wonderful story of your beloved Bubbee. The only advice I can give you is your wonderful memories of Bubbee will only grow stronger in the years following your great loss.

  48. cadeck13 - Nov 3, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    Mark,Absolutely beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing her life & love with us. I am sorry for your loss, but happy for how she truly blessed you and your family. With a Bubbee like her it's not hard to understand how you are the man you are.My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  49. Mike - Nov 3, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    Mark,Your love for your Bubbee, and hers for you, came through with great clarity in your post. I am sincerely sorry for your loss. But, as you said, it's probably more appropriate to celebrate the 95 years that she had. Despite that, however, you will also mourn, not for her but for your loss of her. My dad died about a year and a half ago and I still mourn over his absence from my life. Please travel safely, and bask in the loving embrace of your family as you gather to remember a wonderful woman who was very important to all of you.

  50. barney - Nov 4, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    I wish I could write a tribute like that for the people I've known who I will never meet again, but that's not I can do. I'll just have to remember. Thanks for sharing about someone who seems to have lived a great life in the manner in which she wanted to live!

  51. Section 109 - Nov 4, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    Mark, what a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. Your story and those wonderful photos tell so vividly of a very loving, joyful person. Thank you for sharing such an emotional moment with your online friends. Prayers to you and your family.

  52. joNAThan - Nov 4, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    Your grandmother I'm sure is smiling as she reads this touching and classy piece dedicated to life she led and the lives she touched. My sincerest condolences to your family and to all those on here who have lost somebody they love. My dad goes in for a heart procedure later today..less than a year removed from bypass surgery, so I find your tribute especially moving as I think about what my dad means to me.

  53. alexva - Nov 4, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Dear Mark, I'm very sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace.

  54. Andrew - Nov 4, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    A wonderful tribute to your Bubbee. Our thoughts and prayers to the Zuckerman family.

  55. Uncle Jeff - Nov 4, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Thank you, Mark, but it's enough already with the eulogies. So we'll go, make it faaaast, and then go eat no one should be hungry is there a game on you want to watch? She'd like it that way.

  56. Dave - Nov 4, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    I am sorry for your loss, Mark, but this is a great remembrance of your Bubbee. And that basketball picture at the bottom is fantastic.

  57. DC Tom - Nov 4, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Mark,What an amazing, moving, funny, and elegant tribute. I'm very sorry for your loss…but what a great tribute to a wonderful lady and a complete life well-lived. My condolences and prayers to you and your family.

  58. SilverSpring8 - Nov 4, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Mark:Thank you for the touching tribute. It makes me remember my own dear grandmother.

  59. Big Oil - Nov 4, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Well written tribute Mark. All the best to your family. Travel safely.

  60. Steveospeak - Nov 4, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Mark,A very fitting and sweet tribute to someone whom you had an amazing connection to. My deepest sympathies go out, to you and your family during this time.

  61. Anonymous - Nov 4, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Condolences to you and your family Mark. You are truly blessed to have had such a lovely lady in your life. John C.

  62. Al - Nov 4, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    Mark, I grew up in Eastmont and was best friends with your Uncle Jeff, I know hard to believe he had one or two of those. Your Bubbee was my 2nd mom. I literally spent half my childhood in her home. She made a mean tuna fish sandwich. She was one of a kind, like most of the moms in our community. Great article, thanks for the memories and god bless to your entire family

  63. LoveDaNats - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    Mark,Thank you for sharing your grandmother with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  64. Drew8 - Nov 5, 2010 at 4:34 AM

    Mark:Your grandmother sounds like a splendid lady. I'm sorry for your loss.

  65. Arlene - Nov 5, 2010 at 5:01 AM

    Mark – what a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. The Cohen kids loved her like our own grandmother. Even when she couldn't see well, she would recognize our voices and know exactly which one of us was speaking to her. She was a beautiful bubbee who left an amazing legacy with you, Eric and Tracie. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Arlene(Cohen) Evans

  66. upperdeck4 - Nov 5, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    So sorry for your loss, Mark. Grandparents are too often underappreciated and overlooked. What a great lady.

  67. bzlrbi - Nov 9, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Mark, a great tribute. Thanks for sharing!As much as I love this blog, you are underutilizing your obvious talent writing about baseball, but perhaps this pays better (??) than being a novelist.

  68. nicefellow31 - Nov 9, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    I'm late but condolences to you and your family. Your "Bubbee" sounded like she was an incredible lady who loved you all so much. I hope you find comfort in the memories of time you spent with her.

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