'We embraced it': Three in Grayslake family, plus an aunt in Arizona, all have birthdays Saturday

  • Matthew Parro, left, shares the same Jan. 22 birthday with his parents, Janice and Tom Parro, and aunt Mary Beth Groholski, on screen at right. She lives in Arizona but was in California when this photo was taken Friday.

    Matthew Parro, left, shares the same Jan. 22 birthday with his parents, Janice and Tom Parro, and aunt Mary Beth Groholski, on screen at right. She lives in Arizona but was in California when this photo was taken Friday. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Janice Parro, left, and her sister, Mary Beth Groholski, celebrate a birthday as kids in 1966. They were born on the same day, five years apart.

    Janice Parro, left, and her sister, Mary Beth Groholski, celebrate a birthday as kids in 1966. They were born on the same day, five years apart. Courtesy of Parro family

  • Mary Beth Groholski, left, and her sister, Janice Parro, as kids in 1968. They share a birthday, five years apart.

    Mary Beth Groholski, left, and her sister, Janice Parro, as kids in 1968. They share a birthday, five years apart. Courtesy of Parro family

  • Parro family members from left, Matthew, Janice and Tom celebrating a previous Jan. 22 birthday with Janice's sister Mary Beth Groholski. All four share a Jan. 22 birthday.

    Parro family members from left, Matthew, Janice and Tom celebrating a previous Jan. 22 birthday with Janice's sister Mary Beth Groholski. All four share a Jan. 22 birthday. Courtesy of Parro family

 
 
Updated 1/22/2022 9:01 AM

Four relatives sharing the same birthday have one clear advantage over other folks: No one forgets what day to celebrate.

But it's a calendrical oddity to be sure.

 

Grayslake resident Janice Parro and her husband, Tom, both were born on Jan. 22 -- although in different years. So were one of Janice's siblings, Mary Beth Groholski, and Janice and Tom's son, Matthew.

"The joke for years was that I ruined her fifth birthday," Janice Parro said of her sister.

Groholski turns 62 on Saturday, and her sister turns 57. Tom Parro turns 60, and Matthew turns 21. Add those up and you get a cause for numerical jubilation.

"Collectively (it's) 200, which is why this year it's a big deal," said Groholski, who grew up in Wheaton with her sister and their family but now lives in Arizona.

The group had a big party planned for what they're calling their bicentennial birthday, with dozens of people from different times of their lives invited. But they're postponing the celebration until the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Parro family with newborn Matthew, who was born on Jan. 22, 2001.
The Parro family with newborn Matthew, who was born on Jan. 22, 2001. - Courtesy of Parro family

In past years, Groholski surprised her sister a few times on their big day.

"Tom and I planned a surprise party for her 40th, and I came and kidnapped her to Florida -- with Matt and Tom's approval -- for her 50th," Groholski said. "That was the last birthday we were together."

Tom Parro and Janice -- then Janice Glazier -- met while working together at GE Capital, and they learned they shared a birthday early in their courtship. Tom initially was dubious.

"She had to show me her driver's license," recalled Tom, who grew up on Chicago's South Side.

Tom thinks the synchronicity is pretty cool -- even more so once Matthew came along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life," he said.

Tom and Janice didn't plan for Matthew to share their birthday. In fact, he was supposed to be born a week earlier.

Eventually Janice Parro's doctor induced labor, and Matthew arrived when he did.

"We embraced it," Tom Parro said. "I wouldn't wish it any other way."

Groholski was there for Matthew's arrival.

"What a joy it was when he was placed in Janice's arms with a beanie cap on that said 'Happy Birthday,'" she said.

When Matthew was young, his parents tried to make him the center of attention when Jan. 22 came around.

"I've had a lot of birthday dinners at arcades and Taco Bells," Janice Parro said.

She considers Mother's Day to be her special day.

Matthew Parro said sharing a birthday with his parents and aunt feels normal.

"I have always loved being able to celebrate with my mom, dad and aunt," said Matthew, whose two older sisters have birthdays in March and November. "Not many people can say that about themselves or their family."

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