Marilyn and Jeannette Johnston may be the most senior teenage siblings you’ll ever meet.
Today, Feb. 29, the two Abbotsford sisters celebrate their leap-year birthdays together. One might assume they’re twin sisters at a glance, but both were miraculously born on February’s extra day – four years apart.
“I have seriously met people who have never ever met anybody born on a leap-year day. When I tell them my sister and I were both born [on Feb. 29] and we’re not twins, they say, ‘What! That’s crazy!’” Marilyn said. “We can’t read each others minds, but we are very, very close.”
Marilyn, 15 (60), and her sister Jeannette, 14 (56), say they have never missed sharing the day together once in their lifetimes.
“Our whole leap-year birthday’s have always been really fun,” Marilyn said. “We absolutely love it, we feel like we’re super blessed.
“People go, ‘When do you celebrate your birthdays? March 1?’ And I’m like, ‘No! We’re February babies!’ I totally love being a February baby!”
They almost missed sharing the birthday once because Marilyn was working eight years ago, but Jeannette was able to take advantage of a WestJet deal exclusive to leap-year babies. Because WestJet’s birthday is also on Feb. 29, they were offering free flights to anyone born on that day.
“It would have been the first [birthday] that we would have missed… Unbeknownst to her, I jumped on a plane and I went to Prince George,” Jeannette said. “Her friends were having a party at a restaurant, I was at a different table and she didn’t know I was there.”
“This lady at this table was making this ruckus! So weird,” Marilyn said. “I kind of looked over and it was my sister!”
It’s not the first time the shared day has allowed the pair to get up to sisterly shenanigans. The two apparently looked very similar growing up, allowing Jeannette to sneak into bars with her sister’s ID.
Another time, a surprise cruise-ship vacation was being planned for Marilyn’s birthday, but her driver’s licence was expiring. So Jeannette went and renewed the ID with her picture on it so Marilyn wouldn’t know about the trip.
“They can’t arrest us now… [But] for five years I had a picture of my sister on my driver’s licence,” Marilyn said. “Even my mom… was like, ‘Oh that’s a really nice picture of you!’ I’m like, ‘Mom. Look at the picture again.’”
Marilyn’s favorite leap-year story is from she was four-years old and her mom was giving birth to Jeannette.
“My own mother never showed up to my very first leap-year B-day! With that lame excuse that she was in the hospital having a baby” she said. “I got a little sister for my first birthday!”
Today’s birthday is particularly important for the sisters as Jeannette has been battling cancer. Five out of the family’s six siblings travelled to celebrate the day together.
“We lost our mom six months ago, and two years before that my dad got sick with cancer, we just lost our step mom too. So it’s like… oh man, we’ve had some really hard times,” Marilyn said. “We have a lot of people praying for us.”
Jeannette said she has good days and bad days, but today is one of her good days.
“This birthday is particularly special because I don’t know if I’ll be around for the next one,” she said. “I’m not afraid to die, I don’t want to die, but I know I’m going [to heaven].”