Winning Numbers

The nurse takes the blood pressure cuff off my arm and turns to input the reading as she tells me the results.

I resist the urge to ask, but the override is not in me.

“Wait, before you push reset, can I take a picture of the display?”

She smiles and gives me a quizzical look.

“It’s a long story, but those are competitive numbers.”

It all started years ago when the doctor prescribed my husband a blood pressure cuff to monitor his numbers at home. He never used it once. But for the rest of us, it sparked a persistent competition for the lowest reading.

Heart rate was also in play.

Things veered from normal the day I accompanied my daughter to the doctor and we asked the nurse to take both our blood pressures.

By the second round, the nurse was taking sides and providing tips and redo excuses for the underdog, me.

As the kids got older, they feigned disinterest. However, I still get an occasional text from one of them with a screenshot of a blood pressure monitor. Even my husband, who does not have contending numbers, recently sent me a decent reading from the dentist’s office.

So I was surprised when I glanced down at my phone to see the photo.

98/70, pulse 62

It was an unexpected, stealth winning entry from the least likely of our four kids.

In the very best way, she has been the outlier in our family from day one. Always elegant and calm amid our loud and dramatic alpha antics.

She was last born and is the last to leave. Next week I will drive her to college, yet the house is already too quiet.

With her typical reserve, she methodically prepares.

She is already gone, as it should be.

She has won.