Happy Birthday Guilherme, and farewell, my teacher…

On February 5, 2020, Guilherme Isola Netto, my father-in-law, passed away at the age of 82, from complications of COPD and Parkinson’s disease. He was born on June 3, 1937 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and grew up in the same house where he raised his own children. He is survived by his wife Cleide Marin Isola, sons Marcello Marin Isola and Christian Marin Isola, daughter Alessandra Isola Corrion, and sister Isolina.

By profession, Guilherme was an accountant who worked for various firms, including Nestle and Strake. Most people would know that his passion lie in woodworking and fixing things. In 1998, Guilherme and Cleide retired to Catanduva, Cleide’s birth town 400 km from Sao Paulo.

With shock white hair and sparkling blue eyes, he always had a joke at the ready and a spare candy to share. We fondly remember how sometimes he couldn’t finish a punchline because he was already laughing uncontrollably as he was telling the joke. He loved his football and his favorite club team, Palmeiras, and wouldn’t miss a game on TV. He was an animal lover and a dog whisperer. He was shadowed all day long by his beloved dogs Filo and Bia and his favorite bird, Tiko. Turtles, Margarida and Medium (not too big, not too little), were also part of the family.

Guilherme filled our house with handmade furniture and art, he fixed bicycles for anyone who needed his help. He repaired nearly anything that broke. He spent many hours in his workshop with his bird Tiko either riding on his shoulder or sitting on a nearby perch. He could remember everyone’s birthday and did crossword puzzles in ink.

When Guilherme and Cleide retired in Catanduva, Guilherme quickly established a network of friends across the city. You would think he was a local as there wasn’t a store that didn’t know Guilherme. We never needed a phone book or a map, as he always knew who could help us, what store sold it, or which street to take. He often knew the phone number in his head.

I first met Guilherme when I married his daughter, Alessandra, in 2000. Because we didn’t speak each other’s language, we built our friendship with each word that we taught each other.

The end came faster than anyone expected. We were so focused on keeping ahead of his Parkinson’s symptoms that nobody saw the COPD stealing his lung capacity. We are left with fond memories and so many examples of his handiwork. We will all miss Guilherme; his infectious smile, his laughter, his friendship, his help, and his love.

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