Saturday, July 20, 2024

Carleton Place mother and son finally reunited with ‘guardian angel’ who came to their aid during 2022 derecho

Shelly and Jude Smith were the mother and son Lois Tuffin helped during the May 2022 derecho. – Photo by Hollie Pratt-Campbell

A Carleton Place mother and son who were caught in a harrowing situation during the infamous derecho of 2022 have at last found the woman who provided much-needed assistance that day. 

Last month, Lanarkist told a story about writer Lois Tuffin, who was looking to connect with a young boy she helped when the worst of the storm hit town; she had him take shelter in her car, and later helped him find his mother, whom he was desperately trying to locate during a torrential downpour. Tuffin couldn’t recall any names being exchanged during this frantic ordeal, but said she often thinks about the boy and his mother and wonders if the day is as memorable for them as it is for her.

Turns out, it certainly is.

The mother and son were Shelly and Jude Smith; Shelly read the Lanarkist article and was excited for the opportunity to reconnect with someone she has also thought about often. 

“We never exchanged names, it was just such a crazy moment,” Shelly says. “Even after, when I told my friends and our family members about the story, I kept saying ‘I never even got her name, this woman that helped save Jude,’ I felt so bad.”

In an email introducing herself to Tuffin, she wrote “it’s amazing that I finally know the name of our guardian angel for that most terrifying day.”

“We were very, very happy that we could finally reconnect and know who this wonderful lady was,” Shelly told Lanarkist during an interview.

Recalling that memorable Saturday on the May long weekend of 2022, Shelly says that she was on her way to meet Jude, 11 at the time, who was cycling home from a friend’s house.

“I hopped on my bike and by the time I reached Giant Tiger, [the sky] just opened up and the wind almost blew me off my bike.”

The rain was “torrential,” Shelly recalls. “I couldn’t even see in front of me. It was so crazy.”

Within the course of about 10 minutes, the storm had let up some, and Jude was able to connect with Shelly from Lois’ car. A short drive later, mother and son were reunited. 

“I was so overjoyed to see him and so thankful,” Shelly recalls.

“Lois said, ‘Are you guys okay? Are you going to be able to make it home?’ And I was like, ‘we’re together now, so yeah, we’ll be okay.” 

By that time it was “just drizzling a wee bit.”

Jude recalls the short journey home, where it felt like they were walking through a disaster zone.

“Bricks of a house were falling off,” trees were uprooted, the sound of sirens was in the air. 

But his and Shelly’s hearts were so full of relief to have at last found each other after fearing the worst.

“Everyone is where they are meant to be in the exact moment that they are there and I’m so grateful that Lois was there for ours,” Shelly says.

“It was so amazing that she took the time out of her day to help Jude and help me and then and then to try and reconnect after that. It was just so heartwarming, and we’re just so grateful.”

For her part, Tuffin was thrilled when an email landed in her inbox from Shelly, explaining that they were the ones she had been looking for.

“Hearing from Shelly made me very emotional,” she says. “It was fascinating to get her impression as a mom who was helpless in locating her son.” 

The three are planning to reunite in person later this month.

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