Coping through the grapevine

In 2003, 43-year-old Paula Moulton’s world was shattered when herhusband of 19 years was killed in a car accident. Instead of falling todespair, however, Moulton decided to support her three kids and honourher husband’s memory by forging ahead with her dreams.<br />


In 2003, 43-year-old Paula Moulton’s world was shattered when her husband of 19 years was killed in a car accident. Instead of falling to despair, however, Moulton decided to support her three kids and honour her husband’s memory by forging ahead with her dreams.

The tragedy happened just three days before Moulton’s first book — a collection of personal wisdom titled Seasons Among the Vines: Life Lessons from the California Wine Country — was about to be published.

Her husband had been an orthopaedic surgeon serving thousands of clients and teamed with Moulton’s knowledge of grapes (she has a degree in viticulture as well as a writing degree) they had owned two-dozen acres of grapevines near San Francisco, selling grapes to several wineries in California’s famous Sonoma wine region.

Overnight, Moulton had to take the financial reins — she sold all 24 acres of grapevines and began running the orthopaedic practice, hiring new doctors and keeping the office afloat, while the emotional wounds were still fresh.

“I was mourning as I was going through it. It was like stepping into someone’s shoes overnight. There was of course a lot of change, a lot of sorrow, a lot of pain,” Moulton said.

She says fear of letting her kids down motivated her to keep going.

“I thought, ‘I have to teach them to move on, to have a life.’ Whenever I felt, ‘I can’t do this,’ I thought about my kids.”

She says she hardly remembers the first six months after the accident, relying on accounts her kids and friends gave her about that time.

“I think it was part of my coping mechanism,” she said.

Moulton, now 48, runs her own winery in Sonoma, which she and her kids named Midnight Moulton, named after her deceased husband’s nickname to honour him. She remarried a year ago and has a second book on the way, aimed at helping people who have lost something — be it a job, a friend, or a spouse. She hopes people can learn from her experiences that life is uncertain and the best you can do is make the choice to move on.

“You do have the power to make decisions in your life. You don’t have the power to change the past, or even what might happen to you today, but if you can just pull the positive things out of an experience, you can move on with your life. Take small steps. You don’t have to take huge leaps,” Moulton said.