Her husband, Otilio, nicknamed her "Mouse," but that was because Debbie Maldonado was short, not because she was timid. She was not shy. "Miss Miriam," she would start on her older sister, "You're too fat, you need to lose weight!" And heaven protect the salesman who stood between her and a bargain: "Whaddaya nuts? Lower it, lower it!"
Feisty, warm, shopoholic, chocoholic Mrs. Maldonado, 47, an executive secretary at Marsh & McLennan, called her sister in Miami every day before lunch — "There's a sale at Strawberry's! What size are you now?" — and spent every Sunday with her mother, was a woman of constancy. Same boyfriend, later husband, since she was 14; same boss for 21 years; same summer vacation year after year to visit Miss Miriam.
Even so, she had her jolts. For 16 years, Mrs. Maldonado fought infertility with high- tech intervention and no-tech prayer. But she became pregnant the old-fashioned way, with Krystal, now 11, and then Cris, 9. This August in Miami, she went on a shopping spree. "You never know what's going to happen tomorrow," said Mrs. Maldonado. "What are you talking about?" asked her sister. Mrs. Maldonado replied: "I'm going to enjoy my life now."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 10, 2001.