ELIZABETH McCALLUM ABEL
December 27, 1927 – August 19, 2022
Elizabeth passed away peacefully at Lakeside Long-Term Care Centre. Predeceased by David Frederick Abel, her treasured husband of 50 years and love of her life, and by her loving sisters, June Glendinning and Margaret Rankine. Beloved mother of Barbara Mason (Ian) and David Abel (Natasha Mytnowych). Cherished grandmother of Alexander and William Mason.
Elizabeth Abel was born in West Calder, Scotland and enjoyed a carefree childhood with her sisters. Elizabeth’s grandparents, who lived down the street, often doted on her, which added to the warmth and quality of her upbringing. After graduating from nursing college, Elizabeth - on a last-minute whim - traveled to Toronto, Canada with a friend for what was to be a six-month nursing residency at Sunnybrook Hospital. It was at a dance at the YMCA on College Street that Elizabeth met David Abel, who, as the story is told, wooed her over the course of the evening. Sensing the growing attraction to her suitor, Elizabeth remarked to her friend as the dance drew to a close “If we don’t leave now, I’m never leaving.” She never left.
David and Elizabeth honeymooned in Bermuda, a vacation spot to which they would return many times over their marriage, and first set up house in Calgary, where David’s career as an engineer was beginning. They moved to Peterborough, Ontario where they welcomed their daughter Barbara and later, their son David. Various advancements in David’s career moved the family between Peterborough and Toronto several times, and later moves to Ottawa and their cherished Drumbo, Ontario farmhouse in retirement, which completed their rich and varied residencies together. It was during one stint in Toronto that Elizabeth served as a volunteer for the education of special-needs children, a role which she found thoroughly rewarding.
Elizabeth treasured music, theatre and literature. She played the piano and possessed a fine soprano voice, revealing it every so often singing hymns in church. In her fifties, Elizabeth earned a degree in English and French, including courses in ancient Greek, from the University of Ottawa. Other passions included collecting wine and serving extraordinary meals for friends and family. Elizabeth had a carefree and effortless ability to prepare multi-course meals seemingly without leaving the dinner table, where she was always a sparkling and often provocative conversationalist. She was a generous host, welcoming all into her many homes over the years. Elizabeth was also blessed with an innate sense of style, with an eye for value that honoured her Scottish heritage.
Above all, Elizabeth loved to dance with her husband. Her children recall many evenings out when their parents would dance together as one, often spontaneously and occasionally without regard as to whether or not management had earmarked an area for that purpose. Evenings at the Royal York ballroom and regular trips to the Rainbow Room in New York were hallmarks of their shared love of dance.
The memories Elizabeth and David enjoyed with friends were many; Christmases and Grey Cup with the Pickett’s, dining/dancing with the Matthews’, cross-country ski and Stratford weekends with the Pinkerton’s and sailing with the Pilsworth’s are among the glorious times they spent with their lifelong friends. They loved their children and grandchildren abundantly and without reserve, and served as lifelong role models for all who knew them.
As a grandmother she was gentle of spirit, teaching her two grandsons the fundamentals of enjoying one's life - a trike on the tennis court at full pedal, leaping off the diving board, digging dirt with a trowel, finding a birds nest in the hedge, pulling out a box with an assortment of Lego pieces, ribbon, and plastic bits from the Christmas crackers to which imagination needed to be applied to create something, and making fresh orange juice at the kitchen counter in the early morning while letting their parents have a sleep in. In later years, all of those experiences, together with her love of food, cooking, wine and enjoying wonderful times with family and friends, has clearly rubbed off on her grandsons Alex and Will. And to this day whenever a wine cork is pulled, someone is bound to chime one of her classic sayings... "Oooh, I like the sound of that!"
Following the death of her soulmate David in 2007, Elizabeth persevered and forged a wonderful twilight chapter living at The Spire condominium near Church and Front Streets in Toronto, her “new 'hood” as she referred to it. Elizabeth was welcomed by a group of younger neighbours in the building who warmly invited her into their social circle, where she enjoyed many fine evenings of food, wine and conversation hosted by new friends Tong and Andrew, Jim and Annette, and other warm and generous souls. Along with Christmas Eves hosted by the Geatrose’s and countless dinners with her own family, her time at The Spire was a fitting coda to Elizabeth’s social life.
Elizabeth’s children wish to thank the many people who cared for her in her later years: Dr. David Tang-Wai of the University Health Network, the team at Cedarhurst Dementia Care Home, Dr. Zinnick, Nurse Barbara and the team at Lakeside Long-Term Care Home. And especially Mel, Tanzin, Jean and the many caregivers who offered such loving care to Elizabeth. For the tenderness and respect you offered our mother, we are forever in your debt.
A private ceremony honouring Elizabeth’s life will be held on September 10, 2022. Her ashes will be interred beside those of her beloved husband in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. If desired, donations may be made in Elizabeth Abel’s memory to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.
Elizabeth was happiest when dancing with the love of her life. May she now enjoy that pleasure for all eternity.
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