Marshall’s Way production team

Marshall’s Way is being created by (from left) Dewey and Donna Fladd with Mary and Kevin Schoonover.

A treasured connection

Ever so rarely, we connect with people so well, it feels as if we’ve known them all of our lives. That is how my husband, Kevin, and I felt when we first met Dewey and Donna Fladd.

After losing their son, Marshall, to an opiate overdose last year, that connection has deepened in ways we never could have imagined. It’s become a friendship too treasured to measure.

Nearly 10 years ago, Dewey and Kevin developed a friendly competition while selling art photography at area festivals that quickly evolved into regular texts and phone calls, shared dinners, and brainstorming sessions in the off-season. Donna and I, initially supportive spouses, realized we see life similarly and can talk and laugh about our observations for hours.

As this friendship grew, the Fladds confided in us that their son was a heroin addict and shared some of the emotional struggles this had created for their family. Their efforts to support Marshall, research and pay for rehab programs, deal with the consequences of his unsavory and sometimes criminal actions, pray for his safety, and hope for a lasting recovery were an overwhelming burden to bear. They tried valiantly to rise to the challenge.

Then came the dreadful phone call in the middle of the night on March 1, 2018, from an officer who responded to the scene: “We regret to inform you ... “

How do you support dear friends living a nightmare?

We did what we could with shared tears, listening ears and open arms full of gentle hugs. We plied them with homemade ice cream and provided an endless supply of our secret-recipe berry juices.

When they proposed working on “Marshall’s Way” together, we readily agreed.

It’s been a privilege to accompany Dewey and Donna on this path and help share their story. Each day, Kevin and I are increasingly awed at their strength and humanity — a friendship that’s grown too treasured to measure.

Mary Schoonover is the Finger Lakes Times’ chief copy editor.

Mary Schoonover is the Finger Lakes Times' chief copy editor.

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