[Editor’s Note: Ronnie Petree is a senior VP at St. Martin Bank & Trust Co., working out of the bank’s Jennings office. Petree went into cardiac arrest at the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation’s annual fundraiser on Aug. 27 and is eternally grateful to Angela Stelly, an ICU nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes, and Greg Leblanc, a former EMT, both of whom immediately responded and saved his life, thanks in large part to the availability of a defibrillator at the convention center. He is expected to make a full recovery. The well wishes and offers of prayers from people across South Louisiana, many perfect strangers, prompted him to reach out to say thank you.]
There was a song we used to sing in church when I was growing up that went something like this: “Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help love lifted me!”
Since Aug. 27, the kind words, prayers, cards, texts, Facebook messages, calls, flowers, plants, visits, the food provided and the love you have expressed to me over the last few weeks have been what has lifted me to make me want to get better each and every day so I can be back with you as soon as I can.
I have always known that I am blessed, and considering the way things happened at the UL Foundation Athletic Foundation Fundraiser the night of Aug. 27, I know, even better now, that the Good Lord is watching out for me and had people in place to make sure I could live to send this message today.
I have never doubted that I am one of the most blessed people there is, and I know this because it is all about being raised and living among some of the most wonderful people in the world. I have known you can have a lot of money, land and whatever other material things you can think of, but without good family and friends you consider family, then you really don’t have any real riches at all. Based on the last part of the previous statement, I am one of the richest men on this earth.
I live in a town, parish and state where the most important asset we have are our people. My wife Bonnie and I happened to be in line in a store in Lafayette recently and were checking out behind a mother and daughter who were speaking Parisian French. People in line asked where they were from and they said Paris. After further questioning everyone found out they were not visiting, they actually live in Lafayette. Of course, someone said, “Oh why would you want to live here when you could be living in Paris?” And the lady’s reply was: “You live in the greatest country in the world, and living in Paris is not as good as you might think!"
“Be blessed,” she said, “that you live in such a wonderful place.”
I thanked her because this is something I have known ever since I was born in Elton.
Someone asked me the other day if I thought there was such a thing as reincarnation and who or what I want to come back as. My reply was simple: I would want to come back as Ronnie Petree because I have had such a wonderful life being him. The reason it has been great is because of all of you, and I thank God every day for not only his blessings but for the way almost all of you throughout this area and state have touched my life. The good part about all of this is that I get to live another day, to experience your love for me even more.