Aziza Shula Romano, z”l, Wedding Photo (Courtesy Dr. Barry Lynn)
It's been a rainy winter, but the weather (at least the temperatures) are changing. In fact, we don't see any heavy rain events on the horizon, although some dips in temperatures could be accompanied by showers. The changes harbinger a change in weather regimes as the storm track moves to our north, and higher pressure from the warm south builds further north.
I was asked why this winter has been so different from past winters. This is a great question, but the answer will require quite a bit of research to answer. However, we can point out how the past drought has most likely impacted this winter’s storms. The drought has most likely led to an increase in atmospheric dust, which when absorbed into storms often leads to an increase in lightning.
As to our extended winter, we can say storm tracks were consistently passing through the eastern Mediterranean, and that there was plenty of cold air to our north over Scandinavia and Siberia to spin up these storms into significant rain storms. But, as to what led to the increase in storms, that's an open research question.
People also wonder if there is really something to the negative mother-in-law thing. One person said to me: "I lived for 20 years with my mother-in-law and now 20 years later, I finally miss her." There are possible reasons why it can be hard to get along with your mother in law.
On the other hand, you find people who really like their mothers-in-law. I’m guessing there are plenty of people who do get along with their mothers-in-law. One might also keep in mind that one child or the other may act differently in the home of their parents, and suddenly the new bride, for example, finds herself married to a different person than the one she normally lives with.
People also wonder whether there is anything that remains of us after death. People report seeing a "light" near the time of their death; some attribute this to the afterworld, while others say that there is a (not-)simple scientific explanation.
This is especially relevant to me because my mother-in-law, Aziza Shula Romano, z”l, passed away after a very long illness that suddenly progressed to her end. One evening, just a few days before the wedding of my nephew, she reported seeing a bright light.
When it was pointed out that the lights of the hospital were quite bright, she insisted that no, this was the light of G-d. Later, she was asked why — if she could see the light of G-d — she couldn't ask for an extension to her own life until after wedding. She responded that it was written on the door to "heaven" that this was her time and that she would have to "enjoy" the wedding from above.
Watching someone arrive at the end of their life is not pleasant. I was — and am — very sad. I ask myself, How can this be? She was just my mother-in-law, not my real mother. Yet, I don't remember ever arguing with her, or finding anything she ever said to be disagreeable. She just encouraged me to be a good husband and father, and that we and our children should be blessed. I had the opportunity to explore my "strange" reaction during the eulogies, which will also give you an idea of who this woman was:
“Shula was special — very special.
"We all lived under her special neshama (soul), and our children grew up knowing their Safta (grandmother). What a Safta! She cared for everyone and they cared for her. Yet, this would never have happened if not for the dedication of her children, who took care of her — especially my wife, Rachel. Rachel did not give of herself hours in a week, but days in a week to nurture and to love her mother, to care for her, and to bring her to the point where she (Shula) said: Enough is enough. I am too tired to continue — but not to bless all of you with health and happiness.
"One might wonder why I am crying? After all, Shula was the dreaded “Mother-in-Law.” Yet, like she said I was her son, she was really my mother — my other mother, and just as I love my mother, I loved — and still do — my “other” mother.
"How did she become my mother? Well, I married Rachel, but of course that is not enough. She became my mother because she knew how to communicate, to listen, and understand, and to act on her understandings. When my future wife was late to our first meeting and I called from the restaurant and in my broken Hebrew asked: “Where is Rachel?” she said: “Don’t worry, she’s coming,” and I knew [understood] what she said and what she meant. And Rachel did arrive, and so did Safta’s grandchildren.
"Yet, it must be said that my wife might never have arrived if not for her mother’s sacrifice. After sustaining an injury to her head, she was told that she should end the pregnancy or risk losing her eye. She didn’t end the pregnancy, but she did lose her eye.
"And, then, as she grew older and developed a cataract in her only “good” eye, she turned down the opportunity to have cataract surgery. Thus, with time she became not just blind in one eye, but blind in the second. Yet, she could never be blind to our love for her nor could we ever be blind to her love for us.
"I spoke to her last erev Shabbat at her home, one-to-one. I don’t remember exactly what I said and certainly the time was too short as it always is in the end. I didn’t thank her for Rachel, my wife — I’d already done that as I do every day.
"And now, I miss her voice. I want to hear her voice!
"When Safta became ill, I decided to read Psalm 26 for her every day. I’ve done this for 10 years now, except for chaggim (holidays). I read and read and read it again, with always her in mind — in the hope that this prayer would give her another day to be with us. It describes her so well."
Image credit: The Jerusalem Herald
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.