Mother has fearful wait for news on her family

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An early afternoon phone call Monday nearly stopped her heart.

Carlene Stribling, of Brookhaven, knew her daughter and son-in-law, Sandee and Dr. Scott McPherson, were traveling away from their Jackson home. She knew Scott McPherson was an avid marathoner.

But she didn’t know, not until that first phone call Monday from the McPherson’s housekeeper that Scott McPherson was participating in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

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The news and assurance that a panicked mother needed only came slowly, explained in brief periodic phone calls punctuating awful half-hours and hours of waiting.

Speaking Tuesday morning of the latest news she did have, Stribling said the McPhersons are unhurt and planned to come back to Mississippi today, if they’re able.

Trying to piece Monday afternoon back together, the moments ran together for Stribling, obscured by a dizzy gauze of memory.

“It was just such a horror, so you can’t keep things in place,” Stribling said.

Stribling didn’t know of the dual explosions that brought the storied Boston Marathon to a horrific end Monday until she received a worried phone call from the housekeeper watching the McPhersons’ home. She feared the McPhersons were in Boston, but wasn’t sure of it.

Stribling knew her daughter and son-in-law had traveled to Alabama for a wedding but wasn’t sure where the couple was off to next, though she thought a marathon was on the itinerary.

“Scott always was running in a marathon,” Stribling said. “They go so much, they just go and go, and I can’t keep up with them.”

More phone calls made clear that Scott McPherson, a doctor at St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital, was running in the Boston Marathon.

Once Stribling got Sandee McPherson, 53, the oldest of Stribling’s two children, on the phone, the news was bittersweet.

Sandee was unharmed, but Scott was unaccounted for.

“Sandee called and said ‘I’m all right, but we can’t find Scott. I was across the street from the explosion,'” Stribling said.

Stribling turned her television on, watching the news cameras rolling live from Boston, watching and hoping to catch sight of her son-in-law – catch sight of him alive, unharmed.

“Of course, I was kind of panicky. I was frantically watching TV,” Stribling said. “All those terrible things go through your head. I just stuck to it. I kept thinking, I will see him. I kept thinking, I’ll see him on TV; I’ll see him walk by. I just stayed glued to the TV till I heard.”

Until she heard – heard about an hour later that Scott McPherson was unharmed.

“I was just so grateful he was OK,” Stribling said.

Stribling hasn’t been able to speak with her daughter since and awaits their return to Mississippi.

Also speaking Tuesday morning, King’s Daughters Medical Center nurse Kelli Rego described her own brief scare Monday afternoon.

Working in a waiting room at the Brookhaven hospital Monday, Rego saw reports of the Boston explosion on television.

“I almost had a heart attack when I saw the news,” said Rego.

Rego’s cousin, Misty Chandos, of Indiana, was a repeat participant in the Boston Marathon this year.

Rego had seen only minutes before a notice posted on Facebook by Chandos’ mother describing Chandos as pleased with her finish time.

“She did finish and left the area right before it happened,” Rego said.

Based on the latest information she had, Rego said Chandos, 39, had left Boston but wasn’t back home in Crown Point, Ind., yet.

“All I’ve heard right now is she is doing fine,” said Rego, who grew up with Chandos in Chicago.

“I haven’t seen her in several years, but we try to keep up Facebook,” said Rego.