When we were kids, my brother, sister, and I spent lots of time at my grandmother's Brooklyn town house. Located on Avenue W, between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue, the house was a classic piece of early 20th Century architecture: solid brick construction, center-hall skylight, 3 floors, front and back porch, garage, and a tiny patch of earth that passed as a backyard.
On that tiny wedge of land, my grandmother planted a fig tree. Legend has it that she grew it from a cutting of a tree taken from her ancestral property in Sicily. Wherever it came from, she treated it with the utmost TLC - almost like an adoptive child. She dutifully watered it during the hot, dry summers. She pruned off dead branches in the fall. She even carefully rapped it in burlap to protect the plant from the cruel winter winds.
We all reaped the benefits. That tree produced some of the most delicious figs I've ever eaten. And, it did so year after year.
Eventually, my grandmother aged to the point where it was no longer feasible for her to live alone in her townhouse and we had to place her in a nursing home. My family kept the home for a time until we could decide what was the best way to deal with it. We did our utmost to maintain its condition. But, of course, certain things would eventually fall by the wayside - like my grandmother's house plants (mostly begonias) and the little fig tree in the back yard. It was if that bush had lost its mother. After a few weeks, the fig tree appeared to be in distress, almost lonely, if you will. We did everything we could to try and save it - extra water - fertilizer. Nothing worked. The little tree just seemed to get more and more despondent. Eventually, nothing that we did would bring it back,and it simply died - we felt of loneliness.
My grandmother passed soon after. Perhaps, on some little plot of land somewhere, they are together once again.