ROCHESTER, Minn. — Finding sunshine on dreary days comes easier to senior residents at The Waters on Mayowood in Rochester.
All they have to do is look out the window.
Every day, 89-year-old Phyllis Lokker walks outside her senior living community and waves her bubble wand.
“I get out here and I’m a kid!” she said one morning that was particularly gray, “I’m not this old lady, I’m a kid again!”
Her friends and fellow seniors enjoy the show.
“Seeing Phyllis is just a joy to see someone so happy,” said Karen Kubicek, a resident at the apartments. “Her laugh is well known. She's just a great person to be with and inspires you for the day.”
You might think there were bubbles in this nearly 90-year-old's blood.
“I had this aunt that if you were with her, you were laughing,” said Lokker. “She was nothing but fun. But when she was dying, her daughter said, 'Mom, what song do you want sung at your funeral?' She thought she'd say 'The Old Rugged Cross,' 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.' Instead, she said, 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.'"
So that’s what she does.
Phyllis said she finds joy in everything partly because she doesn’t do anything that doesn’t.
“If something isn't fun I don't do it. My husband does it,” she said.
“I don’t mind doing it,” said her husband, Carl. “If that’s what love is, yes.”
Even with all the jobs she's had in downtown Minneapolis, which includes working at Dayton’s, she finds happiness.
So with Carl in charge of anything dull, Phyllis’ life has been open to fun.
Together, she and Carl run the "I’m Okay" program, where they check every door sign on the third and fourth floors to see if their friends turned it over.
“We like to do it,” said Phyllis. “It makes you feel good.”
Phyllis’ laugh can be heard throughout the building. People always tell her they know where she is at all times.
That laugh is something Carl thinks about a lot. He dreads living a life where he wouldn’t hear it.
“I hope I'm the one to go first when I leave this earth,” he said. “Because I don't know what would happen if she went first."
But leave it up to Phyllis to find joy in death.
“When I die, I'm not having a funeral,” she said. “I'm having a celebration. And I want my ashes to go in a Dayton's box because I want to go in style."
“Even though she wants to go in a Dayton's’ box,” laughed Carl. “I can't say that that will happen.”
If there's happiness to be found in the gloom, she'll be sure to bring it out.
And as long as she still feels that, you can count on sunshine.
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