Thoughout the years
Created by Madeline on 17/03/2016
I had intended to read this at Ileana’s memorial until I
realized that Rachel, Rocky and I only had 3 minutes each. It made more send for Rachel to use the
entire 10 minutes without rushing to speak about her wonderful mother without
the pressure of time. She did a
beautiful job giving tribute to Ileana with the brilliance and grace of her
mother. It was such a joy to see. Ileana’s pride in her daughter is so
Once, I told Ileana that I’m able to make sense of ever step
I took in my life except for this one disaster job at Electric Planet. She immediately clarified why Electric Planet
was important to us. It was at Electric
Planet where we met and became the dearest of friends.
That was 20 years ago, when Russ woo’d Ileana. Russ would send Ileana huge bundles of
flowers every day for months until she finally agreed to marry him. His love was deep. She loved him and the ranch that they populated
with horses, llama, dogs and unfortunately killer bees, that she would commute
to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week without one traffic complaint, for a long
time. Many times I told her she was
crazy, but now, looking back at the wonderful relationship Ileana and Russ had,
every mile was worth it.
During that time, Rachel was born. It was a tough 56-hour labor, but Ileana NEVER
takes the easy route. Russ threw his
heart and soul into raising and educating Rachel while Ileana assumed the
tricky role of balancing motherhood while pursuing her entrepreneurial dreams.
They had a perfect relationship that centered on a child they love deeply. Rachel, your mom told me so many times that
was proud of the woman you’ve grown to be.
Ileana and I grew professionally together. We did some silly things like traveling to
Ireland to get a multi-million dollar coffee company to invest in a fleet of upscale
trucks because we had what we thought was a billion dollar business (at least
on paper). We were 2 women with no coffee
trucks at that time, or street corners we could park our trucks on if we had
any. We really didn’t want work in a
truck, but she persevered with Russ by her side.
And later, after the truck business, I hired her into
Careguide, not because she was my best friend, but she was so much more
experienced and passionate about healthcare, technology, care management and
sales than operating a fleet of coffee trucks.
We helped each other become strong partners to our spouses,
and helicopter mothers to our children while we balanced the demands at work
chasing our dreams. Oh the stress but so much of that stress was just a part of
our make-up. Sadly, we really understood
each other and tried desperately, if at times unsuccessfully to help each other
And then I jumped for joy when she asked me if they should
move to Germany. It was such a great
opportunity for Ileana, Russ and Rachel to experience more of the world. As they say…If you love someone, you need to
let them go.
I thought about their travels, but I never even dreamed that
she would meet Mick and Fazano, Rocky and Nass, Tina, David and the other great
people at Big White Wall and Bosche. You
were her new family and I hope this family doesn’t disappear but realize that
the love you had for Ileana can be augmented by the love you can give to her
family in her absence. They are
Ileana was supposed to come stay with me in the US a few
days before she died. I still have her
sparkling waters, gallons of it, ready for her visit. I was prepared for the routine. The first night just the 2 of us would go to
dinner, she would then go to a nearby hotel.
The second night I would cook her a huge well-done steak…the biggest one
I could find.
I would then convince her to stay. My husband would be sent
to the couch to sleep and we would go to bed together like young girls at a
sleepover. We would talk until the early
a.m. hours, and wake up hugging our iPads, sore from the earphones still stuck
in our ears. I am going to miss those
evenings. They are irreplaceable.
But in an odd way, and unbeknownst to both of us at the
time, I feel like she said goodbye when we were last together. The last time Ileana visited, she told me to
cancel all plans for Sunday. She wanted
to walk through the woods and visit her previous home in La Honda. When we got
there, we reflected back on the fun we had at the house roasting marshmallows
in their outdoor pit, while freezing in the dark. It was where Rachel taught my girls and my
niece to shoot paint guns and where we went apple picking.
I finally got her to laugh at her true obsession for
anything Santa and Christmas. The
Welte’s owned thousands of Christmas
decorations. They spend a month+ putting
them up and a month+ taking them down. And even though they lived in a home
that only birds could see, nothing stopped them from dangling that millionth
strand of Christmas lights from the roof.
We then continued to drive for hours only stopping to buy our
favorite apple fritters, blackberry pie and pizza.
I told her that I finally found ultimate happiness: contentment.
She said that she believes ultimate happiness isn’t contentment. Rather it is achieving a Steady Heart. I had thought she was reflecting back to the
time she convinced me to spend $100 on a meditative breathing program that you
attach to your finger. It really didn’t
But I now wish I understood what she meant by a Steady Heart
and whether she believed she reached it before leaving this world. I don’t understand why she died and never
will. All I know is that she died too
soon. So, how do I find comfort,
assuming comfort can be found? After
thinking it through, I realized it would give me great comfort to know Ileana left
this world after achieving ultimate happiness in her life.
So I looked up the definition on the web. Essentially it leads one to believe that a Steady Heart is when one keeps the heart
relaxed and breathing steady in order to maintain balance despite living in a
world that constantly shakes things up.
But Ileana was so passionate was about life. Ileana wanted to learn and experience as much
as possible in her lifetime. She wanted
to play a leading role in helping others.
She wanted to experience every country.
She wanted to surround herself with people she loved and trusted. She wanted to gift Russ’ and Rachel’s with
the best in their lives.
But passion often leads to chaos, so if Ileana’s definition
of a Steady Heart is to be realized, she is smart enough to know that true
happiness couldn’t happen if she wasn’t able to continue to feed her passions.
When I think deeply of Ileana’s attributes or gifts that strongly define her, I see a woman who
is not only highly passionate about life but also:
- Provides clarity of thought which has made her such an important mentor to others near her
- Trust which has
enabled Ileana to rely on others and vice versa, allowing deep relationships to
- Forgiveness that
has allowed these relationships to grow over decades since we all have faults
and make mistakes
- A unique elegance and Grace to each movement and thought
- And a deep love for
her family, friends, the royal family, Santa Clause, Disneyland, and Shoes.
So, I would say that Ileana’s definition of a Steady
Heart was to keep her heart relaxed and her breath steady so she can focus on
approaching each day with clarity, trust, grace, forgiveness and love while
still enjoying the pursuit of passion.
I’m certain Ileana left our world after she achieved a Steady
Heart, or rather, the ultimate state of happiness. I am comforted by this thought and hope this
helps you too. Ileana’s family and everyone
else who have surrounded her with love helped her achieve this state of ultimate
happiness, while we, in turn, enjoyed and were positively impacted by Ileana’s
clarity, trust, grace, forgiveness, love and passionate pursuits.
I love you Ileana and always will. Madeline
Billiant and Beautiful!