Songs from an Imperfect Life

Ron York has no memory of his third birthday party, or the fact that his father was not present. Family photos reveal a smiling child, while letters and newspaper clippings explain his father’s absence – he was in jail after being arrested for molesting Ron’s 13-year-old cousin.

The following year, the York family had relocated from Miami to Nashville. They joined First Baptist Church and tried to start over. His parents, busy keeping the secrets of their own past, were unaware that their 7-year-old son had begun keeping secrets, too. Over the next several years, Ron was molested by three men within the church. And by the age of 10, the sexual activity had expanded into downtown movie theaters, department store restrooms and beyond.

Although on a destructive and dangerous path, Ron kept his “other life” hidden behind a smile as his parents had done, so much so that even his occasional cries for help went unheeded. As a teenager, Ron found an outlet for expressing his thoughts, dreams and pain through the lyrics in his musical compositions.

Now that his late father’s secrets have been revealed, York believes there must be a reason and a purpose for his own complicated and flawed life. Songs from an Imperfect Life is a raw, honest confessional of a broken child’s desperate need for attention, and an account of his journey toward healing the pain that his family never expressed.

Kept in the Dark

The jail was located on the top 9 floors of the Dade County Courthouse in downtown Miami. The young father could look down from the 21st floor, to the street below. His wife and child would come each night, stand on the sidewalk and wave to him. They would flash the car lights to signal they were there and he, in return, would strike a match from his window to let them know he was watching. Although separated by just a few miles, they were only able to see each other each Sunday, for 2 hours, through glass and wire. Writing letters became their way of communicating and 100 letters were exchanged during an 8-week period.

This was a secret my parents, family and a few close friends took to their graves. No one ever told me and I was too young to remember. And yet, a box containing the letters, yellowed newspaper clippings, faded photographs and cards of encouragement from friends was left for me after everyone was gone.

Although the crime took place more than 60 years ago, it is still as current as today’s headlines. After much thought and reflection, I am ready to share this story. Controversial and uncomfortable, it is still deeply rooted in unwavering love. A horrific mistake was made leaving a family to heal, rebuild their lives and hopefully, forgive.



J. Ronald M. York is the author of Kept in the Dark, a successful business owner, artist and acclaimed musician.



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