About a month ago, I signed up to write a tribute for one of the people who lost their lives on 9/11 as part of Project 2,996. The goal is to honor them by remembering their lives.
Meet Debora (Debbie) Maldonado. Nicknamed “Mouse” by her husband, Otelio, for her short stature, she was anything but timid. She is remembered as feisty and warm-hearted, a shopoholic who loved a bargain, a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Debbie, age 47, was born in Panama. Her family moved to the United States when she was about 5 years old. She earned an Associate of Science degree from CUNY Brooklyn College. She worked as an executive secretary at Marsh & McLennan for over 21 years, and before that worked at American Brands. Her office was in the north tower of the World Trade Center, although she was actually packed and scheduled to move back to MMC's midtown office sometime the week after 9/11.
Debbie called her sister, “Miss Miriam,” every day before lunch and visited her mother every Sunday. She and her husband were high school sweethearts, together since she was 14 years old. She struggled with infertility for 16 years before becoming pregnant with their daughter, Krystal. Two years later, their son Chris was born.
She was a woman who embraced life. Her sister recalls a conversation they had in August 2001 while Debbie and her children visited her in Miami. "You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow." When her sister asked, "What are you talking about?" Debbie responded, "I’m going to enjoy my life now."
My thoughts and prayers are with Debbie's loved ones today. We will never forget.