Doctor Turns String Of Misfortune Into Triumphant Career

Life has a funny way of showing us that no matter how bad things get, they can always get much worse. While at the same time, those much worse times can lead to new opportunities that work out for the best.

For the doctor in the following story, a string of unfortunate events made her feel like her life was ruined, but she wouldn’t let that be the end of her story…

Who is Mary-Claire King

Mary worked as a teacher at Berkeley College and was in the middle of her spring semester. She was married to her husband, John, and together they had a 5-year-old daughter named Emily. At the time, Emily was in kindergarten and she was attached at the hip to the family’s Australian Shepherd, Aussie. 

She Had It All

As a family of three (four if you counted Aussie), Mary seemed to have her life on just the right track. She had a fulfilling job, a beautiful daughter, and a loving husband, or so she thought… 

Cruel April Fool’s Joke?

On Sunday night, the night before April Fools Day of 1981, John sat Mary down to have an important conversation with her. He told her he was leaving her because he fell in love with one of his graduate students and they were headed to the tropics the next day. Surely, Mary thought, this had to be an unkind April Fool’s joke… 

Harsh Reality

There was no way John could be serious because Mary thought they were in a happy marriage. But, it turns out, the following day, John walked out of the house and headed to the tropics with his young student. Mary’s world was slowly caving in …

No Time To Process

Having no time at all to process what happened, Mary had to take Emily to school and then she had to go to work. Either she taught her morning class as usual, or she had to explain why not. So she decided it was far easier to teach. 

Unexpected News

Mary dropped off Emily and headed down to school to teach her class. When she was leaving, her department chairman caught up with her and said, “Come into my office.” Having no idea what this was about, Mary followed…


Mary expected more devastating news because that was the theme that day. That was, until, the elderly man said, “I wanted to tell you, I’ve just learned you’ve been awarded tenure.” Overcome with emotion, Mary burst into tears. 

Happy And Sad At The Same Time

This department chair who gave Mary the news was an older man, at least a full generation older than her and he had three grown sons and no daughters. Noticing that Mary was very emotional, he put his hand on her shoulder and said, “No one’s ever reacted like that before. Sit down, sit down. What’s the matter?”

Opening Up

Mary told him: “It’s not the tenure. It’s that my husband told me last night he was leaving me.” The chairman looked at Mary and opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a huge bottle of Jack Daniels. He poured Mary a glass and said, “Drink this.”

Feeling Better

Despite it being 9:30 am on Monday morning, Mary accepted the drink and the chairman said, “You’ll feel better.” Mary then made it through her last class, sobered up, and at 3:30 pm she headed to pick up Emily from school. Emily, by the way, still had no idea that her father had left the family for another woman…

What Happened?

When Mary and Emily were both in the car, they headed home and walked up the stairs of their porch. Once they walked in the door, they saw that the house was in complete chaos.

They Were Robbed

Mary quickly dismissed that John could have had anything to do with this because it was very clear that it was a robbery. Mary had just been burglarized the day after her husband told her he was leaving her. What terrible luck… 


She quickly called 911 and a police officer arrived and went through the house. Mary didn’t know what was taken because she didn’t know what John took when he left. So Officer Rodriguez said, “As you figure it out, make a list.”

No Time To Waste

As Mary sat there trying to process everything that happened to her, her thoughts were quickly cut short when she realized she was scheduled to give a presentation in Washington, D.C. later that week. She couldn’t miss the presentation because it was her opportunity to apply for a large grant. 

Mary’s Mother

Knowing how important this was to Mary, her mom offered to fly from Chicago to watch Emily for her. The next day, Mary picked her mom up from the airport and in the car she explained that John left her for one of his students. Upon hearing the news, her mom reacted very poorly and said, “I can’t believe you’ve let this family come apart. I can’t believe this child will grow up without a father.” 

Blaming Mary

“How could you do this? How could you not put your family first,” her mother continued. Mary was in disbelief and realized at that moment that her mother would not be able to care for Emily. Her goal of getting a grant would have to be put on hold. What was even worse was that her mother was making it seem like this was all her fault… 

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Mary called her mentor, who was already in Washington, D.C. at the time and she told him she wasn’t going to be able to come. She explained what happened and then he said, “Look, come. Bring Emily. Emily and I know each other. I’ll sit with her while you’re giving your presentation.” When Mary said Emily didn’t have a ticket, he even offered to get her one too. He was the voice of reason Mary needed at that moment. 

The Airport

Mary arranged for her mother to go back to Chicago around the same time her and Emily’s flights to D.C. were. They got stuck in traffic on the way to the airport and when they finally arrived, Mary’s mom’s flight was leaving in 15 minutes. Being that her mom was very frail, Mary offered to walk her to her plane, but where would she leave Emily?

Joe DiMaggio

Mary didn’t know what to do with Emily while she walked her mom to the plane, and that’s when she heard a stranger say: “Emily and I will be fine.” Mary turned around to find the stranger was actually Joe DiMaggio. Mary said to her mom, “Mom, if you can’t trust Joe DiMaggio, who can you trust?” So Mary walked her mom to her plane and thanked Joe when she got back. 

Dr. Mary-Claire King Today

Mary and Emily headed off to D.C. where her interview went great and she received the grant. Mary’s mom was diagnosed with epilepsy shortly after her visit, so her irrational reaction made more sense then it did to Mary at the time. 

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