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First Christmas without Mimi: Kentucky family prepares for life without mom, grandma who died when tornado hit Mayfield candle factory

Jill Monroe's family says Christmas was one of her favorite times of the year which is going to make the upcoming holiday that much tougher.

OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. — A mother, sister, grandma, and friend.

That's how Jill Monroe's family is remembering her. Monroe was one of those who didn't survive the storm-related destruction at the candle factory after tornadoes tore through Kentucky Friday night.

"It's hard to fathom that there were only eight people [who died] out of how many and she's one of them," Monroe's sister Heather Mcguffin said. 

Monroe moved to Mayfield to get a fresh start in August, her family said. 

Her son Chris Chism, said he spoke to her mom's friend who survived the tornado at the candle factory.

"She said, 'Let's go' and mom said, 'I can't. I have Christmas presents to buy,'" Chism said. "But that's what mom did. She was going to make sure her babies had Christmas presents and a lot of them."

Credit: Monroe Family
Jill Monroe

Chris said he was told she was trying to protect people when the storm hit.

"She said that all of the sudden they were told that they needed to get back to the hallway or the bathroom and that the tornado was close," Chism said. "She said they got in there and it wasn't five minutes after they got into the bathroom. She and her sister went in the first stall. She said, 'the last time I saw your mom she ran into the last stall and took a bunch of people with her. We all laid down and tried to hold on."

After more than 24 hours of searching, teams found her. 

Jill Monroe didn't survive. 

Monroe's family says Christmas was one of her favorite times of the year, which makes the upcoming holiday that much tougher.

"I was able to recover some of the presents that she got for the kids," Chism said. "We're going to get them wrapped and we're going to put "from Mimi" on them. Our little elf friend that's running around the house is going to have a picture of her in his lap sitting on them and we're just going to let the kids try to have the day because that's what she would have wanted. Christmas was all about watching the babies open their presents."

Credit: Monroe Family
Jill Monroe

Chris said his mom's friend told him she had planned to move back to Oldham County during the holidays and was planning to tell him, his wife and kids on Christmas morning. 

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