When a child loses their mom it’s an immeasurable loss as that young person tries to navigate their lives without the love, guidance and support that only a mother can give. It’s those little reminders that have to be the hardest: the meals they prepared, the comforting words, the stories they read that serve as an everyday reminder of the love that is missing in their lives. For Isabella it was the time she shared with her mom Patricia doing her hair that she missed.

Her mom had passed away from a rare brain illness she’d battled since Isabella was three, leaving Isabella without a mom at 9 years old. Isabella’s dad Philip did the best he could but there were some things that he just couldn’t replicate like doing his daughter’s hair. At one point Isabella’s thick luscious locks got so matted she had to have it all cut off, but Isabella soon grew it back again. Isabella longed for someone to do her hair the way her precious mom did and it was affecting her confidence. 

“She’d get mad at me for pulling her hair. I didn’t know how to do it,” her dad Phillip said, according to reports. But one day Isabella saw the school bus driver do another girl’s hair and plucked up the courage to ask her to do hers also. “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,” dad Philip added. Philip then discovered that school bus driver and mom of four Tracey Dean had not only been driving her daughter to school but bringing her hair supplies with her and doing her hair before school. 

“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,” Tracey said. “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? I’ll say, ‘You did awesome.’” Tracey said she had battled cancer and had that fear that her children would be in the same situation as Isabella. “I didn’t just survive for my husband and my children, I survived for these kids on the bus that need somebody to talk to or do their hair, I feel pretty blessed,” Tracey told NBC News.