Being back home an answered prayer Being back home an answered prayer by marcella s. ortego| Special to The Advocate May 03, 2014 Comments I was raised in a small town in St. Landry Parish called Lebeau. My mom and dad were married 11 years with no children. She then had my brother Eddie Ray. He was 8 years old when she had six more children, all a year apart. She had four of us in her 40s. I was No. 5. At least we had each other to play with because we did not have neighbors or friends close by. I thought life was so boring growing up in this small town. My father owned a restaurant and store called Stellys, which is there today owned by three of my siblings. He also was a cattle farmer and raised 500 head of cattle on 970 acres. I could not wait to leave this small town and head to the big city life in Baton Rouge when I first married. My husband, Craig, and I moved to Baton Rouge and then to Denham Springs and raised our family. We left Denham Springs for a life on the river in Maurepas for eight years. We went through all the hurricanes starting with Katrina. My husband had enough, and we decided to sell and move back “home” to Lebeau. So 40 years later, we moved on 2 acres on the family home place. After living the city life, it’s so nice to be back (which I never thought I would say). When I go to the restaurant or store, I get stopped by locals who ask, “Are you a Stelly?” I automatically say, “Yes, I’m No. 5, Marcella,” and then proceed to tell them I moved back and now live a mile away. I forgot how it was growing up a Stelly in a small town. My how memories of growing up here are coming back. I now have a 100-foot, four-row garden. My most vivid memory comes back to me every time I pick up a garden hose. I was about 10 years old and mama asked me to water the plants outside in the middle of a hot day in July. I was really mad about it and sharply asked her, “How long do I have to hold this hose on that plant?” She sweetly replied, “This plant needs an Our Father, this plants needs a Glory Be and this plant needs an Act of Contrition.” Now I can’t even turn the hose on without first deciding on what prayer goes to what plant. Growing up in a small town was not so bad after all. Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to the Human Condition at firstname.lastname@example.org or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810. There is no payment, and stories will be edited.