‘Our 1,000 days had everything . . . from joy to sadness’

Charlotte Hareduke and Roland Leuschel

Charlotte Hareduke and Roland Leuschel

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A HEARTBROKEN man has penned a spiritual tribute to the woman he spent 1,000 happy days with in Oxford before she died of cancer, a year ago tomorrow.

They met on a cold winter night at Thornhill Park and Ride and their romance lasted less than three years before she died on August 3, 2013.

Now, Roland Leuschel has written a tribute to the woman who changed his life, Charlotte Hareduke, entitled Charlotte and Me and the Apple Tree.

Mr Leuschel, 52, who has now returned to his native Munich, said: “It was the best time of my life. These 1,000 days had everything from great joy to great sadness.

“I wrote this piece because I wanted to highlight a few points which I think our relationship characterised.

“At our time of life, to be curious and to have the courage to do something new is important.

“I also wanted to say goodbye to her and her family and show them I’m thinking of them.”

Roland moved to Oxford to work at the Mini Plant seven years ago.

Charlotte was a divorced mum of three boys, living in South Hinksey when they met in 2010.

She had just flown in from JFK, he had flown in from his native Munich, when they met at Thornhill Park and Ride. Both had forgotten to book a taxi, so they caught one together and so started their brief time together.

But tragically just one year into their relationship, Charlotte fell ill.

In October 2012, just a week after her 50th birthday, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

She lived for nine more months, spending her last six week’s in Oxford’s Sobell House hospice in Headington.

Roland’s tribute piece takes the form of four different accounts, each accompanied by a drawing penned by Roland’s friend Sebastian Meinecke.

He concludes the piece by writing: “Remember the way we were, in curiosity, in care, in joy and in love – in glory and in pain.

“Deep thoughts are with Charlotte’s sons, siblings, cousins and her wider family. Many thanks, dear nurses from Sobell House for the beautiful care. Many thanks, dear friends in Oxford for having been a part of this potpourri around the apple tree.”

Read the full version of Charlotte and Me and the Apple Tree online at oxfordmail.co.uk

Extract from Roland’s tribute

Roland: What is your meaning of life, my dear?

Charlotte: Having a family and living in harmony!

Roland: You mean - we are almost leaves of a tree, blowing in the wind? I would like to know, which are the roots of the tree of life and where the wind is coming from? Are we part of a higher sense such as a commandment of God - or just the result of confusion, which might happen in Hell?

Charlotte: We will not find an ultimate answer. All we see is a continuous evolution and within some limits - we are supposed to be our own individual artist. Important is, how we behave, as individuals, in our families, in our partners and friendships. It is each human’s choice to paint the picture of life as colourfully as possible. The art is to match your own picture with the reality we see - with curiosity, care, joy and love.

Roland: The first parable is about Adam and Eve, but I don’t want to spread out the history of genesis and the genuine truth. The exciting thing is for me, that Adam and Eve could have lived forever in luxury and stupidity, if they wouldn’t have eaten from the forbidden tree. Curiosity was leading their mind to see the scenery behind. I think life is the curiosity of a child.

Charlotte: Clever boy – now tell me, if they had taken just a little bite, or did they have enough courage, to eat the whole apple? Had they fully accepted the consequences of being damned from paradise forever? Life is not a holiday with a return ticket. It is the recognition of what is important for each of us and having the courage to do it.

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