John Michael Donoho departed this life on November 19, 2021. He was born on August 9, 1987. He is survived by his parents John Richard and Christina Yvonne Donoho, his sister Rachel E. Donoho, and brother Philip M. Donoho and his wife Kelly.
John arrived as a surprise, almost three months early, a tiny two and a half pound person wrapped in medical tubing and plastic. A very sick little boy, he was not expected to survive. But this child was a fighter, and after three months he finally came home and began his journey. And that was the nature of this determined sprite, flourishing and filling up and out and everywhere with his tiny voice. Although not able to hear or see very well, he embraced the sun shining into his bedroom window and warming his face. In time, he learned to sit straight and even pull himself up to stand and gaze at the sky and his beloved sun.
Many people loved him and helped him lift his wings, and for that we are eternally grateful. The therapists in his early programs and the teachers and staff at the Central Special School gave so much of themselves to enhance his life, and cheer every milestone no matter how modest. He progressed from a child in his wheelchair to an adult determined to escape its confines. He loved the water, whether in a tub or a pool. He could always float, but it made him laugh, which made him sink. Many floaties solved the problem and gave him tremendous joy. Physical therapy helped keep his limbs strong and allow him to stand by leaning on a wall or the furniture. We could be sure exactly where he’d be as he roamed his room, always left-to-right eventually finding a window and the sun.
Always an inspiration to his little sister and brother, he taught them compassion, patience and humility. They loved him dearly and took pride in proving themselves by rolling him to the school bus every morning and racing to retrieve him again in the afternoon. They often joked that his calm intensity was evidence of his having achieved Nirvana. His Mom procured a van with a lift, allowing us all to take many road trips around the country, always together as a family.
Other angels impacted his life as well. After he completed school at Central Special, he attended day programs at both the Providence Center and Opportunity Builders where compassionate staff added so much to his life through activities and outings to parks, the mall, movies and even sailing on the Chesapeake. His family expanded even more five years ago when he began living in a group home of the Arc of the Central Chesapeake. Arc staff lovingly cared for John and his roommates. He had his own room, specially designed for him where he enjoyed watching cartoons, walking the wall to his window, and occasionally rearranging the furniture.
The greatest angel of all, the one who loved him above all others was his Mom. Completely dedicated, she worked tirelessly for him, coordinating adjustments to his medications and diet, pursuing better wheelchairs and standers, finding programs to assist with his development, and keeping his world comfortable and colorful. She loved taking him on vacation and always found ways to bring him joy. She was the one person he recognized the moment she entered the room. They are apart, for now. Until they can be together again we’ll remember him smiling, with his hands together, his fingers gently touching praying and clapping. Little John of God has left us just as suddenly as he arrived 34 years ago. John knew love, God’s greatest gift, and he was our own shepherd every single day of his gentle and innocent life.
A funeral Mass will be held on December 3, 2021 at St. Mary Refuge of Sinners in Cambridge. Internment at Old Trinity Churchyard will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to Arc of the Central Chesapeake, 1332 Donald Avenue, Severn, MD 21144. Arrangements are in the care of the Thomas Funeral Home, P.A. in Cambridge.