By Andrea Gill, Professional Organizer, Simplicity Organizers
Like the mythical Egyptian bird that was reborn from its pyre, so our family’s pinball machine has risen from the ashes.
When my husband, Gerry, was 9 years old he received a tabletop version of a pinball machine for Christmas. His rowdy cousins arrived for the family celebration and promptly broke it. Apparently there was always a path of destruction in their wake. Gerry’s dad decided he’d had enough so he set out to find an indestructible replacement- a REAL arcade style pinball machine! And this one lasted. Gerry and his family spent years challenging one another to beat the best score. It also survived countless family holidays.
What the beloved pinball machine didn’t survive was the neglect that followed when Gerry lost his father as a teen. His subsequent departure for college and his mother’s career move to Japan made matters worse. The pinball machine spent more than 15 years in his sister’s basement and later her garage.
For years I’ve know about the pinball machine but had chosen to ignore it- easy to do since it was a pile of parts covered in dust and grime. I was not eager to incorporate it into our décor and was grateful that my sister-in-law had not thrown a hissy fit and demanded we get it off her garage floor. She probably should have.
Earlier this year we decided we either needed to sell it or have it restored for our own family to enjoy. We were fortunate enough to find someone locally who restores pinball machines so we delivered it to him and waited for his evaluation. We were thrilled he was able to “wake up” the machine and that he was confident he could fix it. It took some time but it was definitely worth the wait! When we brought it home, Gerry’s sister was here to see it come to life. Hearing the familiar sounds took them both back to a their childhood. Our kids had never experienced a real pinball machine so we’ve had fun watching them play and invite their friends over to see a relic that is quite possibly rarer than a pay phone.



I coach Simplicity clients and empower them to make decisions regarding whether or not they should keep an item or part with it. It can be tough to let go of things from the past, especially those that have sentimental value. Much of the time they are like that busted pinball machine; old, dirty, neglected. If they insist on keeping it I always encourage them to find a way to honor it. If it is truly important to you then you should. If not, then it’s probably just clutter and perhaps it’s time to let it go.
In his book The Things That Matter, designer Nate Berkus says, “Our homes should tell our stories…who we are, whom we’ve loved and what matters most”. What phoenix do you have that needs to be rescued from the ashes?