Her Favorite Places
Great ideas can come even out of the most difficult periods in life. Listen to the story Mark McGrath recently told me about an inspiration sparked during precious time spent with his mother, Rose Marie.
“In early 2004, my Mom was fighting cancer,” said Mark. “The hospital had done all they could for her and she was moved to a care facility in San Mateo, California where the hospice folks would eventually care for her during her remaining weeks.”
“I filled that room with numerous family pictures and things from her home to warm it up. I bought her a CD player…and several CDs of Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Sarah Vaughn; all her favorite singers.”
“I was thinking about bringing in a small aquarium to sooth and relax her,” said Mark. He knew that aquariums have been proven to lower stress levels and blood pressure.
“Plus Mom and my stepfather (who passed away 3 years earlier) liked to spend most of their time on or near the water. They had a house at Clear Lake where they would sail…and get away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. They lived for many years on a floating home in San Francisco Bay, and spent every Christmas of their final years together at a place right on the ocean in Carmel.”
But fitting in a fish tank didn’t appear possible. Rose Marie’s tiny room at the facility had no floor space for a conventional aquarium.
Mark said, “One day during my visit, Mom and I were laughing about the unfortunate placement of her bed in the room as it forced her to look at this really bad landscape painting 24 hours a day. We joked that there was nothing worse than a bad landscape painting that you HAD to look at.
So, I started daydreaming and visualizing an aquarium on her wall, replacing that painting.”
Mark thought about whether this would be feasible, with water weighing eight pounds a gallon. And how would he safely mount the tank so it couldn’t fall on someone?
“The overall challenges of the engineering were overpowering and crowding out the creative and optimistic thoughts of how amazing and beautiful a ‘wall aquarium’ would be,” said Mark.
Regardless, over the next few weeks Mark sketched his idea and met with “people with bigger brains than his” to work out the physics. More sketches, meetings and a prototype followed.
“Mom loved the idea and really enjoyed the little adventure I was sharing with her, that was of course, for her,” said Mark. “You see, I wanted to bring the lake, The Bay, and the ocean–her favorite places–to her.”
I wish this story had a perfect ending, but unfortunately, the aquarium didn’t get finished in time for Rose Marie.
“I put away the prototype and the drawings and the notes,” said Mark.
“As time went on, friends and the people I had met with would ask me how my project was going. I would explain to them all that I shelved the idea after Mom passed, as this was just meant to be a ‘one-off’ for her.”
“The drawings, notes and prototype came out, got dusted off, and I went back to work,” said Mark. What would become Mark’s company–Piquarium–was born.
Piquariums are unique, quiet, wall-hung, framed aquariums. They are mounted on the wall, rather than in the wall, so no special construction is needed. And all the mechanics of the tank (pipes, tubes, lights, heaters, and cords) are hidden behind the customized, designer frame.
It’s been a successful venture with over 400 Piquariums decorating customers’ walls to date. Often, Mark gets compliments about his creations like this voicemail left by a client: This is so much more beautiful than I ever imagined.
Mark knows that Rose Marie would have felt the same way.
Homeowners, businesses and interior designers can order a Piquarium to complement their decor, with their choice of 28 hand-crafted frames, or with a custom frame. Mark and his team manufacture Piquariums in the San Francisco Bay Area and ship anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.