Her Last Supper, My First

by | Jul 18, 2013 | Uncategorized


Gathered at the far end of the dining table, four generations of women shift in afternoon sun streaming high through the picture window in the kitchen. Suddenly, I’m mesmerized by the stillness of Round Lake just feet away. A spot of sunlight shimmers over the surface like a flapper moving her beaded dress, taunting me to wade in and play. But we’re focused on something more important. Grandmother is giving me a lesson on baking pies.

My daughter is filming it while my mother-in-law culls a pastry blender and fork from six decades of utensils mingling in drawers.

Grandmother’s pie baking is a family tradition. Flaky layers of perfection cup blueberries handpicked and bubbling over the side of tins onto foil lined sheets. My August birthday falls on our vacation so I get to choose the fruit for the pie. There may not be enough wild blueberries in Canada to satiate my appetite.

The smell woos small dripping legs from the water, heads pressed into the screen door. Sweetness known to incite jealousy among relatives who discover she’s baking pies when they aren’t around to eat them.

If the weather cooperates, extravagant riches already stock the freezer; rhubarb plucked from her garden. One of the many reasons the twenty hour drive to the family cottage seems insignificant.

On this day, I’m avoiding my bathing suit and the enticing warm lake water. Attempting to find the muse, the particular notes in the music that make her pies sing.




Seated at the head of the table, I lean over the plastic bowl holding a fork in my powdery hand, stare at a few bars of Crisco, some water in a measuring cup. Flour scatters on the same green plastic table cloth used for years of summers.

And I realize this isn’t about magic ingredients. It’s about art. Art shaped into a masterpiece by an experienced sculptor. Beauty we’ll behold warm on our laps, in a melting pool of vanilla, when the cheeks of the golden orb smile on the lake coloring it orange.

I’ve taken notes in the past, jotted down all her hand movements, measuring time like I can bottle it. Attempting to be a copycat, I know that my rendering will be a cheap imitation of the original.


But today, her hands lay folded in her lap. She gives me verbal instructions between intermittent gazes out the window like a lonesome woman longing to see a glimmer of her lover’s return on the horizon.  And I wonder if she’s lost the appetite for pie in exchange for the taste of something more satisfying.

When we awake the next morning to a cradle of stillness broken by the haunting call of the loon, our bellies gurgle with Grandmother’s favorite pot roast and oversized slices of my blueberry pie. We fight over who gets the last piece for breakfast.

My family quietly slips out the door to spend the rest of the day site seeing while Grandmother sleeps.

But she never wakes up.


We talk about it often. The way God orchestrated those sacred moments seated around the family table for her last supper and my first official pie lesson. How her ambivalence about making the pie crust wasn’t intentional. Preoccupied with the distant call of her Father, she was passing on the gift to the next generation, ready for His embrace.

My daughter is already talking about baking pies as we prepare for our next vacation. She boasts about how her brother owns finicky taste for her apple pie now.

The table waits for our return.  Time remembers the sweet taste of Grandmother’s pies through the hands of her namesake and the lake shimmers on our arrival. This I know.


This post is inspired by Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequiest for the Bloom Book Club at {in}courage.



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  1. Kris Camealy

    Goodness, Shelly. This is beautiful. Really beautiful. I love the way you tell stories–the way you see.

    • Shelly Miller

      thank you sweet Kris, your kindness blesses me.

  2. Annie Barnett

    Tears in my eyes, Shelly. This was beautiful. What a legacy – the pie and all that longing for home. I see that in my grandmothers too. Thank you for this.

    • Shelly Miller

      We revisit her legacy every year. Packing our suitcases tonight for the next pilgrimage to the cottage she left behind. Her deep faith seeps through the walls. Thankful for your visit Annie.

  3. Lori Harris

    Beautiful- that’s all I got, Lady. Just beautiful.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you lovely friend.

  4. Jess @ Life in the White House

    Oh my…how I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this!!!!! Reminds me of my own grandmother and her baking.

    • Shelly Miller

      Jess, how lovely to see you here. So thankful you enjoyed it. My grandmothers both made a huge impression on me I won’t soon forget. Sounds like its the same for you too.

  5. MsLorretty

    a taste of heaven really.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you. I happen to think it was, and the taste still lingers sweet.

  6. Heather

    Oh my goodness. I am still choking back tears. Precious. Simply precious. …and that’s a good-lookin’ pie (Shelly, too!).

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Heather. We all miss her so much. She’ll always remain present in the walls and cabinets of the cottage. Her faith roots us all there.

  7. Nancy Smith

    sweet sweet memories shared here. like sipping cold sweet tea on a porch in Tennessee at my aunt’s house when I was younger.

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad this story brought back a sweet time and place with people you love Nancy. It’s the power of story isn’t it? It’s why I love to write.

  8. HisFireFly

    memories linger long, cords binding what He has brought together
    the tale of his perfect timing touches me today

    and just where in Canada, may I ask (whispers this Manitoban)

    • Shelly Miller

      Ontario, Canada Karin. On a little bit of heaven called Round Lake tucked next to the Algonquin National Park. Gorgeous place.

  9. JViola79

    What a beautiful post! It made the tears roll this morning as I have posted a picture of our four generations this week on my blog. There is something so precious & dear when multiple generations gather to do the simple, just life, together. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Shelly Miller

      There is something special about generations coming together indeed. I’m getting ready to go back to that sacred place and do just that. Looking forward to being there again.

  10. Glenda Childers

    How sweet of the Lord to give you and your grandmas that sweet time together. I have always believed there would be pie in heaven. My grandma’s were both great cooks.


    • Shelly Miller

      We always vacation together, its a magical spot we look forward to re-visiting every summer.

  11. Megan Willome

    What a precious memory.

    Interestingly, though, the last thing my mom ate before she died was cherry pie.

    • Shelly Miller

      Hmm, wonder if there is something to that. My grandmother died peacefully in her sleep. Can’t ask for a better way to go.

  12. Karrilee Aggett

    Breathtaking… I just have no words! So honored that you shared this memory!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Karrilee, appreciate that and thankful for your visit today.

  13. bluecottonmemory

    I grew up with my grandmother – and mother and aunt – and there is something deep and wholesome about being in the kitchen together passing ourselves down generation to generation. I am a mother of 5 sons – and I miss my grandmother – and being in the kitchen with my aunt and mom – and I miss daughters who will want to hear about things like the last supper and pie crusts! There is so much blessing in this post – simply beautiful blessing!

    • Shelly Miller

      I miss my aunt and grandmother too. We live far away from any relatives and I grew up every weekend having fun with my grandmother, baking and shopping and riding my bike. Lived with my aunt during my highschool years and now miles separate us. This story is about my husband’s grandmother, who was a great inspiration to me too. I do find that God brings others in my children’s lives to fill the gap of missing relatives, but its not quite the same.

  14. Nancy Ruegg

    “Preoccupied with the distant call of her Father, she was passing on the gift to the next generation, ready for His embrace.” What a glorious way to spend one’s last day on earth: surrounded by family, leaving a legacy, yet anitcipating with great joy that first moment in Jesus’ embrace. Thank you for sharing these precious memories with us, Shelly. You’ve now passed on your grandmother’s powerful legacy to us!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think it was exactly the way she prayed it might happen. God was faithful to the end.

  15. Suzanne McClendon

    This is a beautiful post and memory of your grandma. It brought tears to my eyes and my “missing grandma” heart. I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much it hurts to lose such an important part of our lives. I also share the feeling that anything I try to do like mine will pale in comparison. May our Father comfort your heart and may your grandma rest in the peace of her joyful reunion in Heaven.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Suzanne. I’m actually back at that cottage and my daughter made apple and blueberry pie yesterday. We thanked God for the legacy and ate until our stomachs felt like they would burst. I know Grandmother would be smiling.

      • Suzanne McClendon

        I am sure of it. 🙂

  16. deewilcox

    What a lovely story. And what a powerful moment. Gives me chills. Praise God for that wonderful gift of time with your Grandmother. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  17. Amy Kelly

    Oh, Shelly, this is so beautiful! I know you are grateful for that time together! I thank you so much for sharing!!

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