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Dying in the Faith

John Savage, former premier of Nova Scotia has but a short time to live, dying of cancer. Three weeks ago, he lost his wife of 45 years to cancer.

  • J. Grant Swank, Jr.,
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I am drinking my Tim Horton's coffee while seated in this crowded coffee shop in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia. The day is overcast, drizzly, and not all that sunshine promising.

However, I have just come upon another Easter story of sunlight. It flows quite freely from the life of John Savage, former premier of Nova Scotia. He has but a short time to live, dying of cancer.

Three weeks ago, he lost his wife of 45 years, Margaret, to cancer.

"I'm not maudlin about it. I'm not crying about it. I'm accepting what happens to everybody sooner or later," Mr. Savage witnessed to reporters on Easter Monday. He was speaking from his dining room table in his lakeside home in Dartmouth. To this city, he gave seven years of his life as mayor before leading the provincial Liberals to power in 1993.

As I feel hail and hearty on this misty Tuesday morning, Mr. Savage is closing out his earthly stay in typical courage and outspokenness. Never one for mincing words, he continues his forthright persona to the end.

"I've had some really startling remissions. . .now it's got to the point where there is no further treatment and I'm prepared to go the way the good Lord intends me to go," Mr. Savage stated simply.

For a personality of extreme independence and at times bold stubborn streak, his reliance upon God has never wavered. He told reporters that being obedient to the divine was his daily walk. He did not mind it. It brought him great support and now that the end is near, it is proving to be his stay.

It was the same spiritual stamina experienced by his wife. What a heritage to give to his children who were watching over him as the reporters queried the politician.

Photographers asked if they could take his picture; he declined, saying that he was no longer photographable. He has lost 40 pounds due to sickness and therefore would like to be remembered as he looked when in robust health.

Mr. Savage could not be more complimentary of the medical staff he has come to know most intimately during his illness. He also expressed heartfelt appreciation to his children for their daily kindnesses.

In speaking to the media, he stated that he expects to spend "the rest of my life in some peace," primarily because of his faith in God. He stated that what lies ahead is exciting him for he believes that death will entrance him into the presence of God, just as his wife's faith held firm.

"I'm quite happy. I have no qualms about dying." He elaborated by saying that a person's faith "gives you a reason for being and for doing. . .It's something that I've always followed, something I've always obeyed and worked with. I find it a real treat at the end."

  • J. Grant Swank, Jr.
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