When Isabella Pieri’s mom died in 2016 from a rare brain illness, her father, Philip Pieri, stepped up to the plate of raising her.
Philip, who worked long hours at a convenience store in American Fork, Utah, taught her how to get ready on her own. Luckily, Isabella quickly caught on and became a bit independent.
But as good of a dad he was, there are just some things that Philip can’t do—like fixing his daughter’s hair.
“It would get so tangled up — I didn’t know how to take care of it,” he said. “And then, finally, she got mad at me and wouldn’t let me touch her hair anymore, so I said, ‘The only way we’re gonna get that big of a mess out of it is just to cut it all off and start all over again.’”
Philip really tried, but he didn’t know how to take care of long hair.
“It’s an ongoing issue for probably the past couple of years back and forth,” he said.
Sadly, they had to go with the unfortunate option of chopping Isabella’s hair into a crew cut. Of course, the girl wasn’t happy about it, but it’s better than having tangled hair. When it grew back, Isabella started tying her hair in a ponytail.
As it turns out, someone had noticed Isabella’s tangled hair before.
When Tracy Dean, a bus driver for the Alpine School District, was first assigned to drive the school bus on Isabella’s route, she saw the poor state of her hair.
However, she didn’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings, so she just kept mum about it.
After over a year of riding on Tracy’s bus, the then 11-year-old Isabella saw her helping a fellow classmate style her braids before school.
Isabella was nervous because she and Tracy really didn’t know much about each other. Still, she mustered up the courage and asked her if she will do hers if she brings a brush. That moment was a relief for the bus driver.
“I was just thinking to myself, ‘Oh thank you, Lord.’” she recalled.
When Tracy learned that Isabella lost her mom when she was only 9, she wanted to do whatever she could to help her, even if that meant something as simple as fixing her hair every morning.
So, from then on, Tracy styled Isabella’s hair the way she wants it.
“I can tell she was struggling with her hair. We usually do two French braids first and once in a while she just wants one braid,” she said.
Thanks to her, the girl now has tangle-free hair that falls halfway down her back. The bus driver also taught her how to care for her beautiful locks.
“I also taught her how to brush her hair. She’d get on the bus and she’d say, ‘I brushed my hair. Does it look good?’” she said. “I’ll say, ‘You did awesome.’”
Isabella’s situation hit close to home for Tracy, a mother of four diagnosed with breast cancer years ago. At the time, she worried about her kids and who would take care of them. Although she knew her husband would be there, she knows that losing their mom would be tough on her children.
Isabella is very grateful to have a mom figure in Tracy.
“It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me,” she said. “And it makes me excited for the next day to see what she does.”
And Philip also appreciates this act of kindness from the bus driver.
“Tracy didn’t have to step up, but she stepped up to help out, I was amazed,” he said.
Isabella’s new hair not only improved her physical appearance; it also boosted her confidence.
“I just noticed her head was a little higher that morning and she had a little more of a step,” her teacher, Mrs. Freeze, said.
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