Father writes book, blog about life as single dad

CorrespondentDecember 10, 2013 

Lisa Ham’s cancer was diagnosed around Labor Day 2009. Five months later, she was gone.

“A friend gave me a journal the day after my wife got sick,” said Bruce Ham of Raleigh, father of three girls and a member of UNC Hospitals’ Single Fathers Due To Cancer support group. “She would be lying there there asleep, and I started putting down my thoughts.”

Three years later, his musings have become a self-published book, “Laughter, Tears and Braids,” which has sold about 1,500 copies on Amazon.com and at Quail Ridge Books & Music, where he spoke and signed copies.

His hope: to help other dads going through what he has.

“Initially, I wrote the book for my girls, to help them understand who their mom was and why I couldn’t always be what they needed me to be during that situation,” said Ham, whose daughters were 7, 9 and 12 when Lisa died. “I began to write about when we met, our marriage and experiences.”

Now he has a blog, The Real Full House ( therealfullhouse.wordpress.com), named for similarities to the TV show, and about 4,700 followers.

After the tragedy, Ham said, he was “really incapacitated” for two weeks, Then, in a conversation with his mom, “a light bulb went on in my head. I had told my wife that if she did need to go, I would step up and make things work.”

He didn’t even know how to sign on to the school’s website. And a scant few months later, two of the girls had birthdays.

“My wife ran the house, she was the CEO. She ordered the cakes and sent the invitations.”

But he pulled off a pizza party at a Hillsborough Street restaurant after which he and 18 girls walked down the street holding hands and singing. Onlookers at sidewalk cafes yelled, “Go Dad, go, you’ve got your hands full.”

Ham thought, “This is what Lisa would want, providing your daughter with a great experience for her birthday. It was a real win for me.”

Toler: ljtoler@gmail.com

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