Inspiring message of “Visiting Nannie” pushes first-time publishers

Both Anna Gaffney and Valerie Chessell admitted they were pushed out of their personal comfort zone while putting their talents together to publish a children’s book – but that’s also the point of “Visiting Nannie.” It’s often uncomfortable and anxious for children to see loved ones in a nursing home setting, but the two ladies hope the book helps calm those fears.

Mitchell resident Gaffney, a registered nurse at Revera’s Hillside Manor, had the idea about writing the book for quite some time when residents at long-term care facilities “light up” when children visit. Now that she has four grandchildren of her own, she decided to follow through with her idea.

But she needed an artist to illustrate her story, and after meeting Chessell through her sister-in-law Dianne Gaffney, approached her about a year ago.

It didn’t take long for Chessell, a Mitchell native who recently moved to Grand Bend, to jump on board and decide to get involved, having four grandchildren of her own as well as identifying with the message it portrays.

The resulting glossy 24-page book, “Visiting Nannie,” was released March 29, and early indications have been positive.

“We’re really pleased how it turned out,” Gaffney said.

“Something clicked,” Chessell said when Gaffney showed her the rough draft. “You have to kind of feel it, the story and the message, and this did it for me.

“It’s something that not a lot of people do,” Chessell added of publishing a book.

“I couldn’t believe the response at work,” Gaffney added. “It’s really positive.”

Gaffney said the story, about Lincoln and Maeve (two of her grandchildren) visiting their grandmother, is vague enough that people of all ages can identify with the scenario.

“It maybe gets the children to open up and be a comfortable way to bring up the topic. The kids will ask questions. If nothing gets said when they go to a nursing home it can build anxiety and I want them to have a positive experience and positive memories and know how important it is for the well-being of the person you’re visiting.

“We [as nurses] do the physical part, but the emotional part is probably more important,” Gaffney added. “It gives them purpose and gives them hope.”

This story was published by Andy Bader in The Mitchell Advocate on April 17, 2019. To read the full story and learn how you can purchase a book, click here.