Rose Marie and Paul Edmundo Esquinaldo were born and raised in Key West during the Great Depression when life on this island was tough. As a child, Paul (Dad) was paid $.010 an hour to crawl into the hulls of freighters to remove bananas. He was often confronted by snakes and scorpions. He harvested coconuts then husked them for sale to tourists for pennies apiece. Dad dove into water, forty feet deep, to retrieve coins turists tossed from visiting cruise ships. As a child, Rose Marie (Mom) helped cater "parties" for the wealthy; she cleaned houses for pennies; she served ice cream at Dairy Queen and tended a counter at the local JG McCory's five and dime store. Mom and Dad never kept their earnings. Proceeds were given to their parents to help with expenses. They just don't make them like that any more.


My Dad was the youngest of eleven children. He completed Key West High School, joined the Navy (during World War II) aand did his tour of duty at sea; he pursued a four year college degree then earned his Juris Doctor (JD) at the University of Miami. Dad practiced law and was a Small Claims Court Judge in Monroe County, Florida for thirty-one (31) years. My Dad was a valued member of the American Legion, the Lions Club, the Jaycees and the Navy League. He instilled justice into each of his sons. He drummed the value of an education into us. Dad taught us fairness and equality. He taught us to value life, no matter how insignificant. We were taught the meaning of “blood is thicker than water.” And as brothers, above all else, we were taught to stand together. Dad passed away January 20, 2002. I still miss him, my life has not been the same. My Dad left a void I can't fill.


My Mom has two sisters. She is an amazing woman. Mom raised three sons in a two bedroom house with only one bathroom. That alone makes her a Saint. Mom devoted her life to her sons. She helped us with homework; she comforted us through our failures and celebrated our successes; Momma participated in our many activities with enthusiasm. She takes notice of every thing we do to this very day. Absolutely nothing slips past her. She’s nursed Dad and her sons through many illnesses but has never once asked for reciprocation. Mom infused love into her sons. She taught us to accept pain and disappointment as a part of life. Oh, yeah, did I mention Rose’s Diner? Sure, she cooked a main meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner but she’d also cook individual meals to cater to individual desires. Ok, so she spoiled us. Damn Momma is a good cook. Obviously, I love my Momma and am proud to be called a “Momma’s Boy.” I try to live up to that handle every day.


Ahh, now I’d like to introduce the “apple of my eye.” Desriee is also one amazing woman. She, in so many ways, reminds me of Momma. I am so proud of you Desi.

I divorced during the latter part of 1985 when Desi was only seven years old. She and I traveled a very rocky road for the next eight years when Desi saw me as the “enemy.” She visited me during the Summer months every year. Late one evening during one of her visits, we were sharing a sofa, eating dinner and watching a video on TV when she asked “Dad, why did you abandon us?” I did not answer the question directly but asked her to recall past events that she had forgotten. Our relationship very quickly made up for all those lost years.

Desi is beautiful, intelligent, industrious, self-sufficient, entrepreneurial and extremely loving. She endures physical and emotional pain without complaint. Remind you of anyone I’ve described? She is raising two amazing children, Blake and Kailey. Her devotion to them parallels Mom’s devotion to us in so many ways. The similarities are uncanny. See, the old cheesy quotes are true: “Blood IS thicker than water” and “the apple doesn’t roll far from the tree.” I just hope she doesn’t grow the mustache I grew at her age. Desi is my baby now and she will always remain my baby. I'll say it again, she is my pride and joy.

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