I think this all comes down to an error on my part. Surprise?!
This is in reference to earlier in the thread where I showed inconsistencies with the use of $parent and $current_page in the View "Index: Child pages of categories (Pillar)" when we reference the fields index-description-2 & index-description-3.
I found that due to the site's particular setup it must be $current_page. The $parent reference is to the last item in the loop (third item in this case). That page (third in the loop) however may have a different parent page. The View uses the categories category and category-alt to find the item in the loop.
By way of explanation we use the page hierarchy to set the primary, canonical home of the page for SEO purposes. Pages can however show up on other categories as well.