Senior shares happiness — and bubbles — every day in Rochester
“It makes me feel so good. I just get out there and I feel a whole lot younger," said Phyllis Lokker, a resident at The Waters on Mayowood, about her bubble blowing tradition.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — The wand Phyllis Lokker waves every morning isn’t placing a magical spell. She’s a “joy-spreader” to The Waters on Mayowood senior living community in Rochester.
She weaves through her planned routine while blowing bubbles outside the apartment complex “whether it’s snowing, sleeting, rain she’s out there with a smile,” active life manager Marni Harris said. Lokker stops in front of the dining room windows, out in the walkway where people can see her from the highest windows and back towards the complex for the office windows.
Though living at The Waters for about four years, Lokker started her bubble tradition in 2000.
“I had an aunt if you were with her she was fun, she was nothing but fun. But when she was dying her daughter said, ‘Mom, what song do you want sung at your funeral?’” Lokker described. “She just looked up and said, ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.’”
Her family assumed songs like “The Old Rugged Cross” or “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” But “pretty bubbles in the air, they fly so high, nearly reach the sky” was her wish, and Lokker continues to blow bubbles to honor and share her joy.
“It makes me feel so good,” Lokker said. “I just get out there and I feel a whole lot younger. I’m not this old lady that can’t do anything, that doesn’t do anything so it’s really good.”
When talking about her own life, Lokker uses words like “lucky,” “blessed” and “wonderful,” including her career at the downtown Minneapolis Dayton’s (Macy’s) store. She enjoys fun activities — all involving people — such as going out to eat, music events and The Waters’ social hour. And the song she hopes to have the angels sing: “You Are My Sunshine.”
“If something isn’t fun I don’t do it but Carl (my husband) does it,” Lokker said with a laugh.
The two also volunteer daily to check on residents in the ‘I’m OK’ program, which is an optional resident safety program. Phyllis and Carl travel the third and fourth floors with hellos, smiles and a list to confirm people have flipped their dahlia signs to read, “I’m OK.” Harris said Lokker constantly shares happiness with residents.
“You empower people, I think, through just your overall outlook, you’re always smiling, you’re laughing, you’re helpful to people,” Harris shared with Lokker.
“You’re really uplifting to other people, whether it’s the staff or the residents. Her laugh, everybody knows Phyllis’ laugh,” Harris said. “You’re like a bright light, and you just shine every day. I’ve really never seen you not have a good day.”
Her demeanor through life has inspired friends, residents and strangers. People in the grocery store know her laugh and she receives notes about her joyful spirit. “It touched my heart,” Lokker remarked about one such note.
Lokker learned early to have fun from her dad who “whistled his way through life.” While enjoying life, Lokker said she met her goals of being a teacher, preacher and speaker.
“I can feel it in my heart that I’m happy,” Lokker said about blowing bubbles.
As the staff at The Waters takes care of residents “like we’re family,” as Lokker said, she’s also “lifting spirits” with her joy, bubbles and laugh, Harris said.
“You really just bring a lot of joy to people. Maybe somebody’s having a down day and just seeing you blow bubbles inspires others,” Harris said. “She would even do it during COVID and so people could look out their window or they were coming in from outside, there would be that glimpse of joy, and I think that that’s pretty powerful.”