Cat’s Out Of The Bag
He put his foot on the gas and came around the corner. Trying to hide, he stopped behind a parked car and slumped down in his seat. He looked out of his window and looked at her.
Isabella heard the bus arrive, she went outside in a hurry and got on and off she went to school. He decided that he would pursue them. He thought everything was okay, but when he saw the truth he felt sick to his stomach. Was he to blame?
11-year-old Isabella and her father, Philip Pieri, lived in Utah. Their morning routine consisted of her dad getting ready and leaving to get to work before the sun comes up while Isabella has to get ready for school by herself and get to the bus on time.
Since Philip always left before she even woke up, he always assumed she did the same thing every day. So when she showed him a late slip one day, he understood, mistakes happen. But when she started bringing home more he knew something was wrong.
Isabella was a happy child, Philip worked hard to ensure that. Even though he never brought home a lot of money he always used it cleverly to make sure everyone was happy, plus money isn’t always everything.
Philip’s biggest supporter was his wife, Patricia. She was always by his side making sure he wasn’t worrying like he was prone to doing. But neither of them could have imagined what would happen next.
But after Isabella turned three, tragedy struck. Patrica was diagnosed with a terminal illness and after a grueling six-year struggle, passed away. Philip didn’t have his rock anymore, he threw himself into his work instead of turning to grief.
He told himself that no matter what, he would make sure that Isabella, his everything, would be well taken care of. But because of his dedication to his work, she had no one to help her get ready before she had to go to school.
After Isabella’s mother passed away, she became an independent child. She was responsible for getting up early and getting ready for school before catching the bus herself.
She felt that it was too much for just a child but she understood why her father was doing what he was. If he could be strong so could she, she told herself. After two years of practicing this routine problems starting appearing that Philip was unaware of.
Isabella started bringing home late slips from her school. Philip did what any responsible parent would and sat her down for a chat. But Isabella didn’t want to talk about it.
She was trying to hide the truth from him. She would always change the subject if he brought it up. Philip wasn’t satisfied with this and wanted to figure out what was really going on. But he had to make sure she didn’t know about his plan.
Philip had thought of a plan. He would take a bit of time off work to see where Isabella would go and what made her late every day. Was she lying to him about taking the bus? He drove back to his neighborhood and parked his car around the corner from their house. He scooted down so he wouldn’t be visible and he waited.
He saw the bus arrive and Isabella came out of the house and boarded it just like she said she did. Perplexed, he tailed the bus to her school and that’s when he noticed it.
He understood that his daughter was struggling without her mother there. He wished it could have been different but neither of them could help it. But he didn’t know that she had changed like this. Was it his fault?
It’s really hard when a young child experiences the loss of their parent. Isabella was no different. She didn’t have someone with a mother’s intuition helping her as she grew up. Philip knew he could never help her the way her mother did. He was about to remember that again from what he saw.
After what Philip saw he decided to ask her about it during their dinnertime meal. He tried to do it the right way by being calm and understanding. He asked her about her sleeping schedule and if that’s why she was late. But Isabella shook her head and didn’t say anything.
He knew that she would never openly tell him, so he’d have to confront her with what he’d seen. And went he did so, she stared at him in disbelief.
He asked her why she would stay on the bus after all the other children left, he knew that’s why she was always late. When he blurted out the truth tears started streaming down Isabella’s face.
Why was the bus driver holding her back after all the other children got to leave? What authority did she have to do that? He asked Isabella why.
Isabella’s mother passed away before she had the opportunity to teach her child some of the necessities of life. These opportunities had been stolen from Isabella and she soldiered on without them. Philip didn’t understand her difficulties nearly as much as he had thought. He knew nothing about girly things.
Philip hung his head low and tears began to form in his eyes. He quickly wiped them away so his daughter wouldn’t see him this vulnerable. What had he seen?
Since she was little, Isabella struggled with her hair. She didn’t know how to take care of it properly and was scared to tell her dad about it after what happened the last time.
He had tried as hard as possible to help untangle Isabella’s hair, but he didn’t know how to. “She’d get mad at me for pulling her hair. I didn’t know how to do it,” he admitted. That’s when he took drastic measures.
He took the clippers he used to trim his own hair and used it to shave off Isabella’s hair. After inspecting her bald head in the mirror, Isabella was horrified with what he had done.
However, knowing he was trying his best, she concealed her sadness. It took two years to grow out again. When her dad suggested shaving it the next time it got matted, Isabella refused. Then, they agreed on a compromise.
A Good Chop
Instead of shaving Isabella’s head again, Philip took out a pair of scissors and cut half of the length off. But this didn’t solve the issue, and soon Isabella’s hair was matted and unkempt again.
She had no choice but to tie it up to try to hide it, until the day the bus driver noticed.
Tracy Dean loved her job, and she loved children. When she saw that Isabella was struggling, she knew she had to step in.
She saw that Isabella’s hair had been cut the night before and suspected that her dad had no idea how to style it. She asked her to stay behind on the bus and whipped out a hairstyling kit from her handbag.
A Morning Routine
Soon, Isabella and Tracy’s hair styling sessions became routine. Tracy would comb Isabella’s hair out every morning and plait it into a French braid.
“I could tell she was struggling with her hair. We usually do two French braids first and once in a while she just wants one braid,” Tracy admitted in an interview. But why did she do it?
At first, it was slow-going. It took a full week of 10-minute sessions for Tracy to slowly untangle Isabella’s hair. She had been slightly late for school on those days, but Tracy knew it was important.
She has four children at home — one who is almost Isabella’s age. But when Isabella began to open up about her mom, Tracy couldn’t hold back.
A Deep Connection
When Tracy heard about Isabella’s mom, she started to cry. It was a story that was close to her own heart.
Tracy revealed that in the past, she had had cancer herself, just like Isabella’s mom. She knew she was lucky to have pulled through and was grateful that she could still be there for her children.
What Moms Do
“Seven years ago, I found out I had breast cancer, and that’s one of the things that went though my head,” Tracy said, pausing to hold back the tears.
“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,” Tracy added.
A Motherly Touch
“I didn’t just survive for my husband or my children. I survived for these kids on the bus that need somebody to talk to or do their hair or whatever,” Tracy explained in an interview.
“I also taught (Isabella) how to brush her hair. She’d get on the bus and she’d say, ‘I brushed my hair. Does it look good? I’ll say, ‘You did awesome.’”
His Little Princess
Naturally, when Philip found out about Tracy and Isabella’s morning routine, he was dumbfounded. Isabella kept it from him because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
But Philip is only grateful to Tracy. “One day [Isabella] came home and it looked beautiful. I call her my princess and she looks the part, she plays the part and her confidence is way up, which is what I’ve been intending,” Philip said.
Philip says he “was amazed” when he learned that his daughter’s school bus driver had shown such an act of kindness. “Tracy didn’t have to step up, but she stepped up to help out,” he said, hiding the tears.
“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 told KSL TV.
“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,” Isabella said. But it goes much deeper than that.
For Isabella, her neat and beautifully styled hair has made a world of difference. And others noticed it, too. “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.
Like many heartwarming stories, news of Dean’s act of kindness spread like wildfire thanks to social media. Netizens shared their thoughts on the story.
One user commented: “Loving this. Truly a wonderful reminder of what a contribution kindness is, for both the gifted and the gifter.” Another user said: “It’s the little things that are the big things.” But what does Isabella think?
A Humble Hero
“Tracy is the best bus driver in the whole galaxy!” Isabella exclaimed. And soon, the media caught wind of the heartwarming story and Tracy was hailed a hero, but she remains humble.
“It’s just the way my mom raised me, to be nice to everyone—people who need a little love in their life. I like to give all of the kids a chance—even the naughty kids,” she chimed.