Roger (left) and Steven Ham eat lunch at Wineburger Harvey in Phoenix in December 2010. Both ducks get together during Roger's lunch break from work and although his 12 children are adopted at school. (Photo: Michael Chow / The Republic)
When a child died after being left by her foster father Roger Ham, I didn't have to look for her phone number.
I know about heart.
I met long-standing nursing parents, Steven and Roger Ham, in 2011 when I first wrote about their 12 children, all of whom were accepted through foster care. I have been in and out of her house over the years, describing her life.
People invite me to tell their homes and their lives to their stories. I spend time with them. I answer the phone when they call it, and we talk for hours, sometimes late at night. Sometimes grief keeps odd.
“You're better than counseling,” said Roxanne Warneke after her husband, Billy, who was killed in Yarnell Fire Fire in 2013.
Not really. But I am a good listener, and patient.
Roxanna Green could only speak half an hour when we first met together in 2011. I didn't know what she was doing. Her daughter, Christina-Taylor, aged 9 years, was shot and killed outside a grocery store in the Tucson area.
John and Roxanna Green keep a photo of their daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, at Christina Taylor Green Memorial Memorial Park, Canada in Tucson on Wednesday, January 6, 2015. The park is named after their daughter, who was 9 years Her age was killed during a massive shooting in Tucson in 2011 which hurt US colleague Gabrielle Giffords. (Photo: David Wallace / Republic)
Eight months later the first story I wrote about Roxanna and her family published.
I stay in touch with people I write about.
But as I explained to Roxanna once, if something bad happened, to say, money went missing from its foundation, I would have to write about that.
“I want you to write that,” said Roxanna.
Usually nothing goes wrong. When it does, it's tough.
I wrote in 1997 about Elizabeth Whittle and Anthony Perez, of Avondale, and their quadruplets. Gave readers gifts and money.
Four months later, the stones were placed in the hospital with a broken skull and broken bones due to abuse. I covered the investigation, trial and sentence.
More than 20 years later, I thought I was meeting the Hams phone number and listening to it. It would be hard to call, but I did it, because that is what we do.
Anthony Perez and his colleague Elizabeth Whittle visit the doctor during a medical check-up at St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix. (Photo: File Republic)
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