Who knew when I went to the Kempton School one late spring morning, I’d be forming a bond that would last a quarter century.

But that’s what happened when I visited Sandy Lefever’s Grade 6 classroom for “National Doctors Day.” The kids were wrapping up a unit on medicine and Sandy had invited her doctor in to speak with them. She thought it might make an interesting story and I did, too.

And that’s how, in March of 1994, I came to meet Sandy’s doctor Barbara S. Pearl. Who soon became my doctor, too.

Dr. Pearl told the Kempton students that medicine wasn't her first choice of career. A history major in college, she went on to become a lawyer.

Most people would have stopped there, but Barbara Pearl isn’t most people. In the early 1980’s, she enrolled at Harvard Medical School and became a primary care physician.

That alone impressed me, but I liked what she had to say about other things, too. When a student asked “Can you guys get sued easily?,” Dr. Pearl shared her prescription for avoiding malpractice claims.

“I think the best way to prevent (one) is to have a good understanding with your patients,” she said. “People sue doctors because they don’t trust them, when they feel that their questions aren’t being answered.

“I believe you need to have a good, honest relationship with your doctor — like you do with family and friends.”

In my nearly 25 years as her patient, Dr. Pearl has been true to her word. Beyond the fact that she’s a terrific doctor, she’s a terrific person.

During my annual physicals, even as she checked me from head to toe, she’d ask how my life was going. Did I have any questions, any worries? Was there anything I wanted to talk about? I never felt rushed and I never doubted her concern was genuine.

As time passed, our conversation expanded to include our families and pets, the future of print newspapers (she reads three a day, including this one) and, especially the past few years, politics. Let’s just say we’re on the same page.

It may sound funny, but I looked forward to my visits with her at Hawthorn Medical. They were like connecting with an old friend — a friend who also took very good care of me.

That’s why I was sad to learn that Dr. Pearl is retiring. My appointment Wednesday was my last with her and, yep, I got teary as we shared a goodbye hug.

I also said goodbye to Marilyn, her longtime secretary, who’s been wonderful, too, fielding my calls and queries all these years. A doctor’s secretary tells you a lot about the doctor, so it makes perfect sense that Marilyn worked with Dr. Pearl. I’m going to miss her, too.

With Marilyn’s help, I’ve connected with a new doctor. She’s got an excellent reputation and I’m sure she’ll provide excellent care.

There’s just one thing: she won’t be Dr. Barbara Pearl.