About two weeks ago we were able to travel back to see TB The Elder And Mom.
The fires created an impediment to seeing them as the smoke was more than what their facility wanted them to be out in. Usually we stop by on the way back from the airport upon arriving; this time, due to the smoke (which cleared out on Sunday) and my work schedule, we (Nighean Gheal traveled with me this time) were finally able to go on Wednesday.
It it hot this time of year, so we headed down at 0900 while it was still somewhat cool. The routine is now the same: we either call or see someone and they go inside to get them as we arrange the chairs outside in the shade. By the time we had them arranged, they brought them out.
TB Elder stops, looks at me for a second, and then clearly says "That is my son".
The clearest I have heard him in 4 months.
We sat them down and started talking - as usual, we largely have to carry the conversation. My mother seemed to recognize both myself and Nighean Gheal, who was able to remind them of things like where she had been (in college), that she had finished her internship, and that she had a job offer. My father interjected a few times; he was clear enough that I could largely figure out what was he was trying to ask and either answered the question or directed it in such a manner that it seemed to satisfy him.
Our visit that day was about 40 minutes, which is on the upper end of what we have been able to manage. At the end I helped my father up; this is the time we go back in and one of the assistants over. But he saw something in the parking lot, or at least thought he saw something in the parking lot - I was not unduly surprised, this has happened before. What I was unduly surprised at was the speed at which he moved across the sidewalk and grass: I, who have come to worry about him walking, was trying to keep up with him and get my arms (unobtrusively) around him and the fence he was by. I have no idea what he saw; but he moved far greater speed than I have seen since February.
We stopped by Saturday morning as well - this, too, is typical before I fly back. My father seemed somewhat less there than last time and my mother very kindly states (as she often has) "I think I should know you but I am not sure who you are". Fortunately almost at that moment my sister showed up. We were able to largely carry the conversation amongst ourselves; my mother seemed content to listen and my father was still quieter than he was on Wednesday, but at least seemed engaged.
When I have had people ask me how my parents are doing, I simply tell them "As well as can be expected, given the circumstances". And I believe that: I have seen and heard of stroke survivors and Alzheimer's patients that have far worse situations and their families far more heartache. Ours is much reduced in that extent at least; my parents are still cheerful and happy to see us and seem to have an idea of who we are (or, if it is my mother, is too polite to embarrass us by asking us who we are).
Any improvement is something to be celebrated, even so small as a reaction I was simply not expecting.