Local writer tells of ‘intense’ experience in Carleton Place during 2022 derecho in new Chicken Soup book

Lois Tuffin, a writer originally from Mississippi Mills, has a story in the latest Chicken Soup book about last year’s derecho in Carleton Place. – Submitted photo

The May long weekend of 2022 was a memorable occasion for many Lanark County and area residents.

The fierce derecho that swept the region uprooted trees, destroyed buildings, and left many without power for days.

For Lois Tuffin, that infamous Saturday afternoon was even more memorable than it was for most. The Mississippi Mills native tells of her experience helping a lost boy in Carleton Place find shelter and reunite with his mother in a new Chicken Soup for the Soul series book published today (Sept. 26), called “Angels and the Miraculous: Inspirational Stories of Faith, Miracles and Answered Prayers”. 

The short story, A Miraculous Meeting in the Midst of the Storm, tells of how Tuffin had just left her mother’s apartment after a visit when she noticed the storm brewing. 

“I noticed the sky had turned a strange combination of purple and brown. The wind had picked up and an eerie feeling came over me,” she writes in the story.

Before long, “trees toppled onto the road and a tent blew out of nowhere under my car.”

So she pulled over to the side of the road to wait out the storm. 

“It was just this weird dead zone,” Tuffin explains during an interview with Lanarkist. “On High Street – there’s a Tim’s [Auto Service], and a garage that was closed and a laundromat, but the door isn’t obvious…There were no other cars and nobody was around.” 

Suddenly, her car door flew open and a young boy, about 10 years old, jumped inside. 

“He was hysterical with fear to the point where I could barely make out what he was saying,” Tuffin writes in the Chicken Soup story.

It turned out the boy had become separated from his mother, and was looking to both find her and seek shelter from the storm. “She’s going to think I’m dead!” the boy exclaimed. He was supposed to meet his mother halfway after returning home from a friend’s house. He also feared she had died as she cycled across town to meet him. 

Tuffin advised him to breathe and helped him to calm down.

After several failed attempts, the boy was able to reach his mother, who had tucked her phone into the bottom of her bag so it wouldn’t get rained on. The rain had let up some by then, so Tuffin drove him over to meet her.

After a brief chat, the mother and son left, and Tuffin never saw them again – never even got their names. 

Now, she would love to reconnect.

“I wouldn’t mind a follow-up conversation,” she says. “It was such an intense experience that I wonder if it hangs on with him. I think his mother also would have been really worried, and it would have been one of those memories that would be really, really vivid for her as well.”

The boy has dark hair and was about 10 years old at the time of the incident; he lives in Carleton Place near the hospital, or did at the time.

Tuffin says she hopes readers of her story come away inspired to carry out random acts of kindness whenever possible.

“You have to be open when someone asks you for help,” she notes.

“I felt quite gratified that I was able to do this small act, make his day better and make his mom’s day better. Sometimes just that little extra…it’s actually prompted me to do other little extra things. That little bit of kindness obviously made a huge difference for him and his mom. And it made a huge difference for me.”

If the boy or his mother read this story, Tuffin encourages them to reach out. She can be contacted at loisetuffin@gmail.com or 705-930-2613.

The new Chicken Soup book, featuring Lois Tuffin’s story, is now available in book stores. – Submitted photo

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