"Gawd, he was funny," said Jodie Ware, remembering her son Taylor. "Witty like his dad, and he had my demeanor. He looked like his dad from birth, but he was a momma's boy. He was a kid that could relate to anyone he met; he could connect to all ages."
For Taylor, life revolved around hockey. He joined as a second-year Atom player, but Ware said he never successfully learned how to stop on the ice during his first year.
"His nickname was Moose and him not being able to stop just attested to this," she explained. "He was all legs on the ice. He just genuinely loved the game and had speed like no other because of his long legs." She also listed music, working out, and skidooing as being some of her son's favourite pastimes.
The Ware family is part of the McLeod Lake Indian Band, a northern B.C. community where Taylor and his 'sissy' Emma grew up.
Ware called Taylor gentle and well-liked, recalling how his cousins absolutely adored him because he would forget that he was a teenager and just play with them. "His heart was amazing; he would hug family all the time, mostly to show off his height; he was 6'2" and still growing," Ware said.
At 17-years-old, Taylor was in an accident that would claim his life.
As difficult as the journey of losing her son has been, Ware said she has been comforted in the fact that Taylor was an organ donor.
"He became an organ donor, not because we talked about death prior to his, but because in our hearts, he was our hero, and he would've wanted it this way," Ware said. "His 'sissy' helped us with this decision and once she said it out loud, we just knew."
Taylor saved three lives with his kidneys and liver.
What Ware said she learned about the process is that it is never too late to make the life decision - no matter what age.
"Knowing what I know now, I would've donated 100 per cent of what we could donate and not just restrict to his major organs," she said. "I have learned what a precious gift it is to offer and how important it is to be an organ donor. How I wish I could have donated more. But just knowing that he has donated has helped us heal as time has gone on."
The experience of seeing how organ donation can change someone's life has since led Ware to BC Transplant where she has joined the volunteer program to bring more awareness and raise up local heroes.
"I want to talk about my angel son, and I want to meet more people who are in a similar boat," Ware said. "My transplant journey opened my eyes, and my son is my hero. Because of him, all of our family has agreed to be donors."
Ware added that sharing stories about Taylor not only helps her grief, but also brings good feelings to those who never had the chance to meet him.
"What I am most proud about my son is our love for one another and that I would not change a thing in my life because it brought me him," Ware said. "I would do it all over in a heartbeat with the same outcome because it meant I got to be his mom one more time."
Written by: Ryan Uytdewilligen, BC Transplant Volunteer