11-year-old Isabella Pieri knows the intense heartache of loss. Two years ago, her mother, Patricia Pieri, died of a rare illness. Since then her father, Philip Pieri, has taken on the daunting role of single parenthood to Isabella and her older brother. The one thing Philip has yet to master? Doing Isabella’s hair.
I originally just gave her a crew cut because I didn’t know how, and it was all tangled and I couldn’t get it out for anything,” Philip told KSL-TV.
However, Tracy Dean, a 47-year-old bus driver from Utah fill that void, she stepped up to the plate after Isabella lost her mom. As soon as she realized that Isabella had to get ready on her own each morning before school, she decided to give her a helping hand by braiding her hair.
After Isabella noticed Dean fixing a classmate’s braid, she asked her bus driver if she could help with her hair too. Now, Dean braids Isabella’s hair almost every morning.
When asked why she does it, Dean said:
“Seven years ago I found out I had breast cancer and that’s one of the things that went through my head is ‘Who’s gonna take care of my little ones?’ Not that my husband couldn’t do it, but, that’s what moms do. They do their kids’ hair.”
“It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me, and it makes me really excited for the next day to see what she does,” said Isabella in the video. For this student, a great braided hairstyle has made all the difference in her confidence.
“I just noticed her head was a little higher that morning, and she had a little more of a step,” one of her teachers said.
Dean said she treats the students like they’re her own children, and that it brings her happiness to see them happy. Cut to me crying all the happy tears!
This heart-warming story shows how something so small, like taking time to braid a child’s hair, can make such a big impact in their lives, and how we could all use a compassionate bus driver like Dean in our lives.