11/25/2013 AT 5:30 PM ET
Growing up the son of a screen legend “was great, kind of circus-like,” says Christopher Wilding. “The big tent folds and moves to the next city.”
And wherever they called home, the 58-year-old adds, Taylor “took great pains to create a stable family life” for the four children she adored.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Taylor’s family shares intimate memories and rare pictures of their mother for the first time in honor of her AIDS activism, leading up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Never-before-seen photographs taken by her close friend (and Lassie Come Home costar) Roddy McDowall show Taylor as you ve never seen her, at ease and unposed. “He was the only one who could get really genuinely relaxed pictures of my mother,” says Christopher.
An ultra-private family, three generations of Taylors share warm, often surprising memories of the matriarch they loved.
While she was not a disciplinarian, Christopher says, “she wouldn’t hesitate to call you out if you were being close-minded or intolerant or judgmental.”