A small gesture can go a really long way. It was the kindness of 47-year-old Tracy Dean, a bus driver for the Alpine School District, which made Isabella truly shine with her perfectly braided hair.
There's nothing more devastating and heartbreaking than losing a parent. It's harder if it's your mom because you count on her for everything, and when she's not there, you realize just how hard life can be and you wonder how she made it all look so easy. It leaves you wondering if life will ever be the same again. However, one little girl was lucky enough to find the familiarity of a mother's touch from someone unexpected. 11-year-old Isabella Pieri lost her mother when she was only 9 to a rare illness, but in a feat that can only be described as pure strength, she picked herself up and began her journey of independence.
She managed to get a lot done, but the only thing the 11-year-old couldn't do was to braid her own hair. She tried to seek help from her father, but it didn't help much as her father Phillip, 47, was working intense hours at a convenience store in American Fork, Utah, and he found it hard to manage her hair. For his part, he tried. "She'd get mad at me for pulling her hair," Phillip said. "I didn't know how to do it."
In order to make it easier for both of them, he got her a crew cut for the time being. "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," he said in a television interview with KSL TV. Soon after, when her hair grew back, she started to tie her hair in a ponytail. And then... something changed, and it's safe to say it was for the better.
"One day [Isabella] came home and it looked beautiful," said Phillip. It was the kindness of 47-year-old Tracy Dean, a bus driver for the Alpine School District, that made Isabella truly shine with her perfectly braided hair. It all started when Isabella saw Tracy braiding her classmate's hair. So, she mustered her courage and went ahead to request Tracy to braid her hair as well. Needless to say, that one request from the little 11-year-old girl was the start of something new for both of them.
From then on, every morning, Tracy took the time to braid Isabella's hair. "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," the 47-year-old bus driver told ABC News. "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?'" Dean said. "I'll say, 'You did awesome.'"
Such a BEAUTIFUL story of compassion and kindness! What a world it would be if everyone showed such ❤ to one another!— Kristy Woods (@mzkristywoods71) April 21, 2018
As for Tracy's motivation for doing this, she said, "Seven years ago, I found out I had breast cancer, and that’s one of the things that went through my head — who is going to take care of my little ones? Not that my husband couldn’t do it, but you know, that’s what mom’s do. They do their kids’ hair." Isabella had her own motivations. “It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me,” Isabella said. “And it makes me excited for the next day to see what she does.”
Tracy Dean's simple kindness can make a world of difference. Thank goodness for people like her.— Diana (◠‿◠✿) (@AuggiesGirl) April 21, 2018
This act of kindness by Tracy has definitely not gone unnoticed by Phillip - “Tracy didn’t have to step up, but she stepped up to help out, I was amazed.” And by her teachers - “I just noticed her head was a little higher that morning,” her teacher, Mrs. Freeze said, “and she had a little more of a step.” Tracy's act of kindness is an inspiration to many. While a mother's love just can't be replaced, there's also the fact that love and care can come from the most unexpected places, if you ask for it.
Tracy Dean, you are the example of an incredible human being. I lost my only sister to cancer at the age of 43 (just under four years ago). She left two children so this story resonated with me. Never stop doing what you do and being who you are.— Christopher Schiller (@ckschiller) April 22, 2018
After losing her mother at nine years old, Isabella Pieri learned to get ready on her own, but had a hard time with her hair— bus driver Tracy Dean’s simple act of kindness gave Pieri new confidence. @LesterHoltNBC has the story. pic.twitter.com/FhuUwuYsHs— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) April 21, 2018